St. Martin's, Sep 2004, 21.95, 275 pp.
In the Cleveland suburb of West Olmsted, John Weston hires private investigators Lincoln Perry and Joe Pritchard to learn who killed his son Wayne and what happened to his missing daughter-in-law Julie and five year old granddaughter Betsy. The police suspect a murder-suicide though they have not found two of the corpses while the media insist that Wayne killed his wife and child. John insists he just saw Wayne who was too contented to suddenly within forty-eight hours commit the horrors the press assert he did.
Though reluctant to get in the middle of an on-going official investigation, Lincoln accepts the case for a larger than normal fee. As he and his partner investigate an intriguing money trail that leads to gambling and South Carolina, several divergent parties threaten to kill the two sleuths if they do not drop the case; others try to hit home runs using the heads of Lincoln and Joe as baseballs. Still the increasingly dogmatic detectives dig deeper.
The dual mysteries of murder and missing people are cleverly handled so that readers accompany the sleuths as they follow the clues and antagonists in turn pursue them. The suspense increases by the moment with threats to harm or kill Perry and Pritchard if they fail to back off. Although an excellent investigative plot, the key that supports why TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE won the 2003 St. Martin's Press Best First PI Novel award is the cast. Lincoln especially is fully developed but the prime support players including Joe, the deceased and his family, some media and the police. Michael Kortya makes an impressive debut.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner