Those of you who are familiar with my reading tastes know I rarely go back in time - or forward, for that matter. I prefer the here and now. However, every now and then I break my own tight-fisted reading mold because the premise of a novel catches my eye. Gumshoe by Michael Compton happened to write that little number with a seductive description of an old-fashioned noir mystery.
Definition of noir: a genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity
And what's a dark mystery without an alcoholic Hollywood Private Investigator, a Packard, some heroin, an aged rich Colonel, his young knockout cold-as-ice conniving wife, a missing son - or is he? - a club singer, the inconvenient bastard daughter, and a rare artifact?
Before I go any further I must say I loved Michael Compton's writing. You know I don't rave about writers here, but Michael's good. Expressions, metaphors, tone, he did it all. If I had to fault him, I could only say there were just a couple of times our contemporary slang expressions infiltrated the prose but not enough to lurch me out of the moment.
This dark story held me captive with P.I. Ellis York's impressions, insights, and descriptions of other characters and their motives for wanting what they did. His liquor inevitably landed him in trouble, but it seemed there was no escaping trouble anyway on the two cases which somehow intersected - just outside of his mental reaches to discover exactly how. Typical of noir, figuring out who was doing what to whom seemed as impossible for this reader as it was for the gumshoe in this story.
Remembering the introduction to the story remained, wondering if there would be a reprieve, but I confess I never saw this ending coming. Unusual, well-done, and carefully constructed, Gumshoe is almost a two-part novel with the second part coming near the final pages. While not the ending I would've chosen - or even preferred - it's still a fascinating and well-written story. Surprisingly clean for a general market novel in spite of the suggestion of unintentional incest.
Father, you know my heart. You know everyone's heart. I pray your continued blessing upon Michael's life, that he would understand that every good and perfect gift comes from you, and that you would continue to inspire him. Keep your hand upon him and let him know how much you love him. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.