Tuesday, May 4, 2021

ARC Review: City of Dark Corners by Jon Talton

City of Dark Corners

Jon Talton
Publication: Poisoned Pen Press (May 11, 2021)

Description: Phoenix, 1933: A young city with big dreams and dark corners

Great War veteran and rising star Gene Hammons lost his job as a homicide detective when he tried to prove that a woman was wrongly convicted of murder to protect a well-connected man. Now a private investigator, Hammons makes his living looking for missing persons―a plentiful caseload during the Great Depression, when people seem to disappear all the time.

But his routine is disrupted when his brother―another homicide detective, still on the force―enlists his help looking into the death of a young woman whose dismembered body is found beside the railroad tracks. The sheriff rules it an accident, but the carnage is too neat, and the staging of the body parts too ritual. Hammons suspects it's the work of a "lust murderer"―similar to the serial strangler whose killing spree he had ended a few years earlier. But who was the poor girl, dressed demurely in pink? And why was his business card tucked into her small purse? As Hammons searches for the victim's identity, he discovers that the dead girl had some secrets of her own, and that the case is connected to some of Phoenix's most powerful citizens―on both sides of the law.

My Thoughts: This mystery set in Phoenix in the 1930s stars Gene Hammons who was a homicide detective until he lost his job when his efforts to free a wrongly convicted woman came into conflict with a well-connected, powerful man. Now he's a private investigator trying to make a living in the midst of the Great Depression.

Gene served in World War I, even lied about his age so that he could enlist with his older brother, and came home with bad memories and trouble with loud, unexpected noises. He managed to build a very successful career in the Phoenix police department. He's most famous for finding the University Park Strangler who left a trail of young female bodies in a nice part of town.

When his brother calls him to a crime scene, Gene gets involved in trying to find out who murdered a beautiful young blonde, dismembered her, and left his business card in her purse. He's pretty much alone in his investigation since the powers that be don't want any more bad publicity for Phoenix which would damage their role as a tourist destination.

Gene and his girlfriend news photographer Victoria Vasquez soon find lots of hidden secrets surrounding the murder victim Carrie Dell. The story is filled with corrupt cops, mob exports from Chicago, and local criminals from a variety of ethnic groups. The language is contemporary to the times and jars a little on our more sensitive current nerve ends, but the story is compelling and fast-paced.

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this story which is larded with real life characters including Barry Goldwater. It paints a vivid picture of life and crime in 1930s Phoenix, Arizona.

Favorite Quote:
On the bottom floor was the lobby to the Valley Bank & Trust, the strongest such institution left in Phoenix. The lobby looked like the high temple of money, with soaring ceilings, Art Deco carvings, sleek hanging chandeliers, and walnut teller counters and benches so beautiful they made me feel every inch the imposter. It was almost enough to make you trust banks again.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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