2019 Silver Falchion Candidate
Book of the Day
Gumshoe On the Loose
Review by Danny Lindsey
I came late to the party. John Leininger’s Gumshoe on the Loose (Oceanview Publishing, 2018) is the third in the Mortimer (Mort, dammit!) Angel series, but my first read. Leininger has managed to drag, infuse and sometimes confuse three – or more – generations of private eye personae into one protagonist, and has updated the expected cast of characters to the 21st century.
Mort and his boss Ma conjure up memories of A. A. Fair’s Bertha Cool and Donald Lam series that were written before Earl Stanley Gardner ‘fessed up about his real name, to include remote motels, Nevada and California desert and beautiful women. Mort himself trends more to Travis Magee, in that he never seems to have a client or sidekick that isn’t a world-stage knockout. Possibly as an olive branch to potential female readers, at least Mort’s women appear to have more brains than he, albeit well hidden by traditional female charms. I mean, how many times does a woman answer her motel room door clad only in bikini panties in real life?
The teen idol rapper Jon-X managed to get himself both shot and left for ransom. Figure that one out. Mort first stumbles, then relies on blind luck while untangling the snarl of gorgeous women, police detectives, sleazy journalist and the like. His Mike Shayne, Mike Hammer personality laced with shades as far back as Johnny Dollar doesn’t come into play often, but the long-term PI reader will spot them when they do.
Do the good guys get the girls? Do the bad guys get caught? Who of the two million or so parents would kill a sleaze-ball rapper like Jon-X to keep his or her daughter from running away to become his groupie? Alas, no one knows the answer except John Leininger, and he is apparently delighted to keep the secret well after most of the pages are on the left side of the book’s spine.
Over the top? Yes. Bawdy and rollicking? Oh, yes. Politically correct? Would you really expect that of a hard-boiled PI? Of course not. The girls are too pretty and willing, the desert is too sunny and hot, and the action is not always contained within the plot.
A fun read, and a good one.
Danny Lindsey keeps trying to retire. After a 20-year Army career and a 25-year second one in the private sector, he’s finally settled down. His current gig is as the Veteran Employment Services Manager for a Huntsville, A.L. based non-profit, Still Serving Veterans. Both full careers were characterized by numerous writing assignments, from war plans to operating policies and procedures, then on to white papers, analyses of alternatives and competitive contract and grant proposals. Now his writing consists of blogs for the website www.ssv.org, podcasts for the local NPR affiliate, and a half dozen Pulitzer-worthy, albeit unpublished novels.
Update: Danny won the 2017 Killer Nashville Claymore Award with his manuscript Serial Justice – so he will not be unpublished for long!