Richard A. Thompson
Poisoned Pen, Nov 2009, $24.95
In St. Paul, Minnesota, bail bondsman Herman Jackson is stunned to learn one of his repeat customers, homeless Vietnam vet Charlie Victor was brutally murdered. The only reason Herman learned of Charlie’s death is the tortured soul left him a mysterious box.
The FBI visits Herman to learn what he knows about Charlie, which the bondsman finds odd. That is followed by an invasion by armed militia who want to know what he knows about Charlie. When the police close the case, Herman takes over the investigation with help from newspaper reporter Anne Packard although the threats rise dramatically as they follow tenuous vague clues.
This is an entertaining Twin City Noir starring a hero who in some ways feels like a throwback to the 1950s wisecracking head cracking (including their own) sleuths. The story line is fast-paced as Herman finds himself the target of cops, thugs, and Feds even before he investigates the homicide with his Girl Friday reporter sidekick. His reaction to his sudden status as a person of interest is to laugh at those trying to strong arm him. Fans will enjoy FRAG BOX and seek his previous walk down the mean streets of St. Paul (see THE FIDDLE GAME).