Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review of Cadaver Blues by J.E. Fishman (Stonegate Ink, 2012)

Phouc Goldberg runs his own business conducting debt relief negotiation - for a fee he’ll argue on behalf of his poverty-stricken customers with their creditors over outstanding debts that cannot be repaid and help consolidate debts.  Used to being treated like the ‘little Asian guy’ he has anger management issues and little sympathy for his clients.  When Mindy Eider asks him to intervene in the foreclosure on her uncle’s house, he agrees despite his reservations.  His efforts quickly run into a brick wall, but beguiled by Mindy’s beauty and innocence he agrees to play detective.  Mindy’s uncle has vanished, the bank is in a hurry to foreclose, and several parties seem interested in the property.  Something fishy is going on, but getting answers is proving difficult, though there are definite signs of foul play.  Moreover, Mindy acts of kindness to strangers are wearing down his cynicism.  He’s soon out of his depth, but determined to solve the case and get the girl.

Cadaver Blues is a competently written, mildly amusing crime novel.  The narrative is all show an no tell, with the story told through short, snappy scenes.  The characterisation is well realised, with Phouc Goldberg being particularly engaging as a hardnosed cynic - written as a kind of love to hate figure but with a decent, kindness very well buried under his abrasive exterior, and he’s accompanied by some nicely penned supporting actors.  The story is well plotted and unfolds at a brisk pace.  My only reservation is it all felt a bit formulaic, with the story lacking real spark and a captivating hook that raised it up out of the pack, and I never really believed the premise underpinning why the house was being foreclosed or who was behind the mystery.  Nevertheless, it is an entertaining read and the Phouc holds much promise as the lead character in a new series.

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