Five Star, Apr 2004, 25.95, 322 pp.
It is just a few weeks before Ron Shade contends for the Full Contact Karate Heavyweight championship. Meanwhile Ron must eat so he continues to work security jobs such as his work at a downtown Chicago hotel bar. Ron intercedes when a big guy manhandles a female patron. He soon realizes that the thug was roughing his first love high school sweetheart Paula Kittermann. He impregnated her back then, but her parents forced them to separate and Paula had an abortion.
Ron takes Paula to his home where they share unprotected sex. The next day he leaves to train, but Paula is gone by the time he returns. Later he learns from his pal Detective George Grieves that someone killed Paula in a hit and run. Her cousin Laurie arrives and hires Ron to investigate what she believes was murder. Knowing he might be the prime suspect, Ron accepts the case not realizing that his opponents do not care about any rules when it comes to keeping the truth from surfacing.
This is an engaging private investigative tale that will have readers not only wondering about who killed Paula and why, but also how he did in the big fight (not telling). The story line is a character driven urban noir though Ron is a softy chivalrous knight when it comes to the underdog. The support cast whether their milieu is crime or the ring and Chicago add depth to a fine who-done-it.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner