Friday, July 13, 2012
"Truth...suffers more by the heat of its defenders than from the arguments of its opposers." Wm Penn
It's 1992 and the decision on the Rodney King case is about to become public.
In this noir novel, P.I. Duke Rogers is asked to find a classmate for a new client. Duke gets the woman's address and gives it to the client, only to learn that the so called classmate was a TV star and the "client" was a crazed fan who killed her.
Morally, Duke feels he must find the man who murdered the actress, Teddie Matson, who is a black woman. Duke starts to ask questions but becomes involved in the heated racial tensions of East Los Angeles.
When Duke gets to the business where the brother of the actress worked, the Rodney King decision had come down and the riots began. In a very descriptive part of the story, we witness the racial hatred toward whites, Koreans and for any form of authority. People are looting and burning homes, businesses and anything that will catch fire. Duke becomes threatened because he is white but is protected by a large black man, nicknamed Tiny.
The story progresses with Duke going to the dead woman's home and trying to convince the woman's mother and brother to tell him about Teddie so he can try to find the killer.
There is a secondary story about a woman named Laurie Hamilton who is being bothered by a stalker. In her case, the bothersome man is becoming more and more brazen and with the riots, the police have their hands full. Laurie doesn't know what to do so turns to Duke for help.
While the author tells an interesting story, I felt that there could be more character development. I never got to know Teddie or Laurie in order to develop a sense of sympathy for their situation. In addition, Duke is doing all of this work without being paid. I wonder where his money comes from for his expenses and everything else.
The dialogue was well done but with the racial tension at such a central part of the story, I would have liked to learn more of what some of the black characters went through to feel this hatred.
Nevertheless, I did find the novel entertaining. I think that fans of Lawrence Block and Elmore Leonard will enjoy this and I look forward to reading more from Paul D. Marks.