In 1942, Pearl Harbor has been bombed and the war is very much in evidence, but it would seem to have little to do with Frank Boyle, a respected Bronx born insurance investigator. He’s a man who can keep secrets, and no one suspects that his boyhood friend—local mob boss Nicky Brooks—is his lover. When Brooks accidentally kills Frank’s younger brother in a shootout, Frank must choose between his affair with Nicky and revenge for his brother’s life.
After Frank betrays Nicky, police detective Sam Lipinski, a Bronx native who has long carried a torch for Frank, makes a move against the mob and lands squarely in the way of Nicky’s plans. Sam smuggles Frank out of New York to keep him safe, and sets him up him in a small northeastern city. But there, a messy insurance investigation involving the Roarkes, who may or may not have killed their own mother for the insurance payout, places him in danger again. Dodging bullets, shady characters, and fallout from the war, Sam and Frank will need far more than luck on their side if they’re ever to see a loving future.
Review: I loved the noir style of writing. I’m a big fan of the old noir films of the 1940’s and 1950’s and as I read, I could see it all in black and white, whirls of fog in the background, the obligatory cigarette dangling from a mouth, and, of course, the stoic femme fatale who can cry on command.
There were aspects of the story that didn’t seem to make sense to me, although most was revealed late in the book bringing it together. The elements of mystery were all there – Frank’s past with Nicky, his present with Sam, the murdered/missing mother, the doctor with the painting… Then there’s the question of who’s good and who’s bad, or who just got caught up in the middle of everything?
The characters were not fleshed out as well as I would have liked. Although there’s quite a lot of Frank’s sordid past with Nicky and in regards to his brother’s death, there’s not much more than a few passing sentences on his past with Sam or on anything else good in his life. Since the story is told in first person, the only history we get on Sam is from Frank’s point of view. This aside, the book is a wonderful noir-style read, perfect for a rainy afternoon.