Ali Karim is a Board Member of Bouchercon [The World Crime & Mystery Convention] and co-chaired programming for Bouchercon Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015. He is Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, British correspondent for The Rap Sheet and writes and reviews for many US magazines & Ezines.
The PI Thrillers by screenwriter David Levien have been gathering strong acclaim (including a PWA Shamus Award Nomination). One reason why his PI novels have become so popular is due to the strength of his character Frank Behr, the troubled former cop now scratching a living as a private eye. There’s been a gap between Levien’s City of the Sun and its follow-up Where the Dead Lay but the wait has been worth it in this, the third of the series.
Levien’s screenwriting background is evident as the prose is spartan, lean – propelling the story with the momentum of a movie script, rather than the slow burn evident in some literary work. Evidence of this comes right at the start, when Behr in what appears a straightforward body-guard job ends up in the crossfire of a shoot-out. It appears that the political motivations of Bernard “Bernie Cool” Kolodnik are not shared by some figures in the darkness.
Striated across the novel with grim subtlety is the backdrop of the economic reality that faces us all, including Behr, who has moved in with Susan his pregnant girlfriend. Healthcare costs are a motivation for Behr as he finds himself embroiled in intrigue and bullets crisscrossing his path in Indiana. Uneasily, free-agent Behr finds himself working for The Caro Group and this only leads to a sense of unease as mid-western politics become as dangerous to Behr as the conspiracy he finds himself embroiled in, and perhaps protecting ‘Bernie Cool’ was not the plum job that it first appeared. Then there’s hit-man Waddy Dwyer, escort girls and euro-trash blocking Behr’s path and the economic security he is chasing. Though blocking the path of Frank Behr is far from smart, making this third excursion into the dark side of Indiana a recommended one, but bring a Kevlar jacket, because when you crack the spine of this book, you have to watch out for the ricochet of stray gunfire.