Book Report: Mobtown by Jack Kelly (2002)

I bought this book for $4.95 on the discount rack at Barnes and Noble while spending the holiday gift cards. Of course, the trip turned from burning off the gift cards to an orgy of book purchasing, so we ended up with more than our $50.

This book represents a retro reprisal of hard-boiled detective novels. The main character, Ike Van Savage is a former soldier, former cop, drinks-too-much, womanized a bit too much, kind of private eye. In Rochester, New York, 1959, Van Savage gets a call from a mysterious hottie who thinks her husband wants to kill her. The husband’s the local syndicate kingpin whose two previous wives had accidents. Suddenly, Van Savage finds himself where every hardboiled private detective is: fending off willing chippies and dodging the accidental bullet-cushioning while over his head in crime and plots he can barely fathom.

A good book and a pleasant throwback to a readable genre that failed to teach us the life lessons about how being a man in society means something other than being tough and tenacious. Where it means something more womanly. Which is why some reviewers call the main character “cardboard” — They’re part of the drive that lead to more sensitive, bleeding, crying soft-boiled detective who are more frail than the middle-aged working schlubs who read the books. Once they stopped being comic books with heroes to whom readers could aspire, they stopped being good. But this book bucks the trend, fortunately.