Shadow of a Distant Morning
Review: The St. Louis Cardinals are about to meet the Detroit Tigers in the 1934 World Series and private investigator Devlin Caine is on a case involving a black notebook — its contents written in code — wanted by men who are willing to kill to get it, in Shadow of a Distant Morning, the first mystery in this series by William Topek.
When Kansas City industrialist Ronald Graham asks Caine to do a background check, he's suspicious but reluctantly agrees. The case seems simple enough: Graham is about to enter into a business agreement one Craig Carlton, and wants to know if there are any hidden skeletons — metaphorically speaking — in his closet. But there are a couple of aspects to the case that trouble Caine. First, the PI Graham originally hired to the job has gone missing. Second, the person who had introduced Carlton to Graham is Jospeh Trianna, a known mobster. It isn't long before Caine learns that his predecessor is not just missing, but dead. And soon thereafter, the subject of his investigation, Craig Carlton, is also murdered. A subsequent search by Caine of Carlton's hotel room turns up a carefully hidden black notebook, the existence of which Caine keeps to himself; as a former member of the Signal Corps during the war, he thinks he may be able to decode its contents to find out what is so important that he's risking his life to protect.
Written in first person from the perspective of Devlin Caine, Shadow of a Distant Morning is a nicely plotted, if overlong, novel. Caine's case involves all the usual players and suspects, motives and methods, which works both to its advantage and disadvantage. On the plus side, it is familiar and expected, with characters and a storyline that fit perfectly with the time and place. Here's a sample of the often evocative, noir-ish narrative: "I crushed out my cigarette when I recognized my stop, the place where a lot of my thinking usually takes me: the corner of Nothing and Nowhere." Readers who expect a noir mystery, an intelligent PI with a wry sense of humor, one who prefers to out-think his opponents but is willing and able to get physical when necessary, will be delighted with this book. On the minus side, however, it is familiar and expected; nothing new introduced here. There is a reasonable amount of misdirection to keep readers engaged, though it, too, is fairly routine; the outcome to the mystery not unexpected. Still, Shadow of a Distant Morning is a promising start to this series and, on balance, an entertaining one at that.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
A Shared Confidence
Central Avenue Publishing (Ebook), May 2012
ISBN-13: 9781926760711; ISBN-10: 1926760719
Location(s) referenced in Shadow of a Distant Morning: Kansas City, Missouri
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Shadow of a Distant Morning by William Topek — A Devlin Caine Mystery
Publisher: ireadiwrite Publishing
Publication Date: October 2010
List Price: —
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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