Signet, May 2002, 5.99, 272 pp.
Around the turn of the previous century in San Francisco, Jack London ekes out a living writing and selling occasional articles to magazines. He feeds himself each night with the free food in the local bars. He also supplements his meager income doing odd jobs for the police.
The SFPD hires Jack to join Officer Healey on a stakeout that night. They notice two men and get into a tumble, with Healey recognizing his combatant as master safecracker Lou Kandel, a recent escapee from San Quentin. Both criminals escape and the next day Healey is murdered. SFPD brass asks Jack, who identifies the other thug from mug shots as Manny Thurston, to stay on the case because they believe that master criminal Glass plans to steal the Rajah's Ruby from the visiting “Belle of Broadway, Belle Conquest.
DEAD MAN'S COAST, the latest Jack London mystery, is an exciting historical tale that brings to life a bygone era. Albeit, a police procedural, the plot is more of a period piece that uses interesting tidbits to enhance the story line. Though the mystery is fun, it takes a back seat to Jack and other real persona and the intriguing facts of the turn of the previous century in the bay area. Peter King has written a story that historical fiction lovers will fully enjoy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner