Down these mean streets, a man must go. It’s thirty years after the heyday of black and white film and book noir, when Shane Cleary walks the mean streets of 1970s Boston, the Dirty Old Town.
Shane is a private eye trying to survive after returning from the Vietnam Conflict. He gets “asked” to help an old friend, Braddock, who married Shane’s dame from under his nose, to locate his blackmailer. It seems Braddock’s shady real estate scheme has been discovered and photocopied by the blackmailer. Shane must brave the local underworld and mob types to find the solution.
Dirty Old Town genuinely gets the noir vibe. It also uses the perfect, but new, gritty 70s setting (think HBO’s The Deuce). My personal favorites are the tough PI quotes, which are pitch-perfect for the Marlowe-sque vibe the book is aspiring to.
Why you shouldn’t let a dame change your life: “In my experience, the goat who thinks with his horn loses his place in the farmer’s yard to the ax.”
A person can go far with an authoritarian voice: “He had a voice that would get him a drink after last call.” Or why a name like Jimmy the C could mean a porn career or a skill with meat cleavers: “I couldn’t separate the yolk from the whites, the fact or fiction about Jimmy, but I had a hot case of nerves.”
Overall, I’ve missed this hard-boiled noir sense of hopeful hopelessness. Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett are applauding somewhere. 4.5 stars!
Thank you to the author and Partners in Crime Tours for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
“Robert B. Parker would stand and cheer, and George V. Higgins would join the ovation. This is a terrific book–tough, smart, spare, and authentic. Gabriel Valjan is a true talent–impressive and skilled–providing knock-out prose, a fine-tuned sense of place and sleekly wry style.”– Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of The Murder List
Shane Cleary, a PI in a city where the cops want him dead, is tough, honest and broke. When he’s asked to look into a case of blackmail, the money is too good for him to refuse, even though the client is a snake and his wife is the woman who stomped on Shane’s heart years before. When a fellow vet and Boston cop with a secret asks Shane to find a missing person, the paying gig and the favor for a friend lead Shane to an arsonist, mobsters, a shady sports agent, and Boston’s deadliest hitman, the Barbarian. With both criminals and cops out to get him, the pressure is on for Shane to put all the pieces together before time runs out.
Book Details:Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Procedural, Historical Fiction Published by: Level Best Books Publication Date: January 14th 2020 Number of Pages: 162 ISBN: 1087857325 (ISBN13: 9781087857329) Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
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Gabriel is the author of two series, Roma and Company Files, with Winter Goose Publishing. Dirty Old Town is the first in the Shane Cleary series for Level Best Books. His short stories have appeared online, in journals, and in several anthologies. He has been a finalist for the Fish Prize, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and received an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest in 2018. You can find him on Twitter (@GValjan) and Instagram (gabrielvaljan). He lurks the hallways at crime fiction conferences, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and New England Crime Bake. Gabriel is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Catch Up With Gabriel Valjan On: GabrielValjan.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!
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