Friday, April 13, 2007

A Dirty Business by Joe Humphrey (A-)

A Dirty BusinessFirst impression: Cover is good, but nothing special. It is, really, somewhat ambiguous.

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The story opens with Kevin Bailey arriving in New York City. He has a few problems in his life--he's broke and has no place to stay. As we read, it is obvious that Kevin is looking for some traction in his life, that he's trying to get his feet on the ground, and that he is in need of change for the better. Through a good friend, he gets his foot in the door as a PI. As I read, I found myself wondering--Is he going to catch a break in his troubled life or begin the journey to his doom?

His first case involves a client who wants to find out about her son's girlfriend; it will be Bailey's training wheels case, but the question immediately arises--will the inexperienced Bailey get into trouble? After all, he has no PI license and no investigative skills. And yet the case seems harmless enough. These facts create uncertainty as to what will happen to Bailey, and what kind of a crime he will come into contact with; after all, there is going to be some Dirty Business involved.

After a somewhat slow opening, the plot engages as Bailey learns that the woman he's looking for is not the same that the client's son is going out with. This is the first complication, and the first indication that things aren't as they seem. The mystery grows, as does our suspicion of foul play, when Bailey learns that the woman that he's looking for disappeared. Questions such as--where is Norma Vidon; whether she was killed; and if so, then by whom, and why—swirl over the action. The mystery pulls us in as the investigation into the woman's disappearance turns up links and connections to the son, his mystery girlfriend, and their doctor; it develops, with unexpected twists and turns intensifying the suspense, and, like in a good mystery, nothing in the end turns out the way that it seemed it would.

The writing is smooth and easy and Humphrey is speaking to us with a powerful, assured voice of Bailey's first person. The book goes down quick, and before you know it, you find yourself wanting more. This is a good read that introduces an interesting character, leaving plenty of room for sequels.

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