Monday, September 8, 2008

The Hotel Dick-Axel Brand

The Hotel Dick
Axel Brand
Five Stars Sep 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594146763

In 1948 at the barber shop in the Lakeshore Towers Hotel in Milwaukee, someone entered and killed customer J. Adam bark, THE HOUSE DICK. Homicide detective Lieutenant Joe Burgess leads the investigation, but has a difficult time with who the barber Damon Barbara insists killed Bark; Spencer Tracy does not seem like a cold blooded killer nor why would he murder Bark.

Still he has the department check where Tracy is even as he begins searching Bark’s office for clues. He soon realizes Bark had a lucrative business with a few cops as they would bust in on unmarried couples illegally using a room. Heeding his wife Lizbeth’s suggestion that one of those victims sought revenge, Joe begins to make inquiries in that direction, but soon Greer Garson and Veronica Lake are shot.

This is a great regional historical police procedural starting with the insistence of the eye witness that Hollywood Spencer Tracey killed THE HOTEL DICK and never slowing down until the final spin. The story line is character driven mostly by Joe and the late Bark. This is one brand of a detective that the audience will want more of as 1948 Milwaukee comes to life in a superb whodunit.

Harriet Klausner