Hyperion, Jan 2002, 23.95, 288 pp.
In 1959 Rochester, New York private detective Ike Van Savage understands that the matrimonial assignments pay the bills so he never refuses any of them. Currently his client wants evidence that her husband Eddie Gill of Gill's Texas Hots & Ground Round is cheating. Ike takes photos of Eddie with an underage waitress that his wife can use to blackmail her philandering spouse.
His next client Vicky Petrone wants Ike to find material on her husband that she plans to use to blackmail her spouse into not murdering her. Vicky expects her spouse, local mob chieftain Joe, to kill her as he has done to two previous wives. Ike also works on an arson case that he thinks ties back to the Petrone mob if he can stay alive long enough to prove the link.
MOBTOWN is an exciting historical noir that never slows down as Ike bounces from case to case until he realizes all three are connected. The story line will remind readers of the movie Chinatown, but in upstate New York instead of Southern California. Ike is a wonderful lead character whose precocious almost ten-year-old daughter humanizes him so that he never becomes a caricature of Sam Spade. Fans of historical urban noirs will relish a trip to Jack Kelly's hometown.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner