Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bullets and Lies

 I first encountered Robert J. Randisi back in 1984 when I read his Miles Jacoby private eye novel, Full Contact. I liked that one enough to hunt down the previous two Jacoby books and then read the ones that followed, as well as Randisi's other PI series about Brooklyn based Nick Delvecchio. Randisi also compiled and edited the Private Eye Writers of America anthologies, which were treasure troves of PI short fiction.
   Later I learned that Randisi was the author of many many westerns and when I say many I mean over 400. His newest is the first in a projected new series about a former Pinkerton detective turned private eye. So, as the Doctor might say, "It's a private eye book AND a Western! Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?"
   Bullets and Lies: A Talbot Roper Novel introduces Roper, former soldier, former Pinkerton, now in private practice. he's been hired by the wife of ailing Civil War veteran Howard Westover. Seems that the US Government is revoking a number of Medals of Honor given during the Civil War and Westover's spouse fears that his may be one of them. Westover's health has been slowly going downhill since he was injured in the war and though he may not have long to live, his wife doesn't want him to die in dishonor.
   Roper is hesitant at first but finally agrees to try and save Westover's medal. However, as in all good private eye books, Roper's client isn't telling him everything. Roper travels to Washington DC to try and learn about Westover's military career and enlists the help of an old friend who is now a high ranking official in the Secret Service. While the two men are out for dinner, someone takes a shot at them. But who was the target? The further Roper goes, the more complex his case becomes, and when people start dying, Roper knows he will have to get to the truth before he ends up dead himself.
   Bullets and Lies impressed me on several levels. It's a well plotted PI book and at the same time it has all the things you want from a Western. Obviously Randisi's knowledge of both genres makes him the perfect guy for this sort of book. The writing itself is as smooth and as clean as you would expect from someone who has written over 500 novels. Randisi keeps the chapters short which gives the book a thriller pace. All and all a very good read. I'm hoping to see a lot more adventures from Roper in the future.

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