Pippa D's Reviews > Private Dicks: Packing Heat

Private Dicks by Samantha M. Derr
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really liked it

This is a set of six detective stories by different authors. What makes it such a good edition is that there is an interesting mix of styles within the stories, and genders and sexualities amongst the characters. If you can get past the lurid title, it is a wide range of interesting short stories.

A Bar Called Once by Daniela Jeffries
Ryssa is a successful PI. Living solo since Lana, the love of her life, left her for a bloke, Ryssa hangs out at the local bar every Friday night. There she spots a chap chatting up, and leaving with a different woman every week. Fairly normal, but it caught her attention when three of the four women were listed in the paper as missing. The real kicker though, was finding out that the chap was Lana’s husband. This was an entertaining yarn. The main character was fun and the story worked quite well. There was a little too much of the ‘Miss Marple explanation’ to tell us how it all worked at the end for my liking, but that’s being fussy. Entertaining lesbian PI short story. 3.5 stars.

Black Suede, Red Velvet by Freddie Milano
Fujimoto is a high-level drug trafficker, on whom no one can get close enough to pin anything. James Tachibana goes undercover to get evidence against Fujimoto, and the closest way to get into the organisation is through Fujimoto’s exclusive club. This is a tense and clever undercover story. Tachibana is well drawn through his internal thoughts, and the rest of the cast is lightly drawn. There are some lovely detailed scenes that build the tension between Tachibana and other players in the drama, and a gay romance which is surprisingly sweet. I really liked this one. 4.5 stars.

Cold, Bitter, Dark by Douglas P. Wojtowicz
Deacon is an ex-cop, quietly in love with one of his ex-snitches. Mishelle is a trans woman who works as a prostitute, who knows Deacon is one of the few decent blokes around. When one of the local heavies kidnaps one of Mishelle’s friends, she knows that Deacon is the only one who’ll go the distance. This has many of the elements of the hard boiled variety, but Deacon is a surprisingly gentle character for the PI he’s become. Mishelle is tough and smart, and it would have been good to follow these two in a longer story, as they have all the elements of good characterisation. The plot is fairly shallow, as befits the short story format. Intelligent and engaging. 3 stars.

Mr. X And The Blackmailed Female by Edale Lane
Miss Stetson Goody is smart, capable and loves puzzles. Realising that in the 1890s she can’t work as a private detective, she invents Mr X. No one ever gets to meet Mr X. but his is the name that goes into the newspapers when she wins a case. Lady Ashton had an ill-advised liaison with another woman, and a photo was taken. She needs to find the blackmailer before her whole family is in ruins, and Mr X is the one to get the job done. This was cleverly written. It’s hard to write in a different period without it sounding odd, and Lane does a good job of modernising enough to work without going into too much period detail to slow things down too much. 4 stars.

Orpheus Rising by Andrea Speed
Manu Collins is a PI investigating a murder by a crime syndicate run by the richest, and most powerful man in the city. He stumbles across some of the victims of human trafficking, and realises that acting on it will change his life, as well as the life of his boyfriend. This is an action book rather than a crime novel, but Speed handles it well. Nothing is extraneous in this fast-paced short story. 4.5 stars.

Sweetbrier by Helena Maeve
Set during the Second World War, this novella is a spy drama featuring Rahul Khan, who is a detective in a small town on the Welsh coast. A veteran who lost an arm during his time at the front, he is faced with solving a murder that the police have ruled a suicide. The woman was staying at Sweetbriar House, a local guesthouse, which is the temporary home of several wealthy guests who are sitting out the war away from the action. Sweetbriar is a nest of possible spies as well as a potential murderer. The handsome Mark is another attraction to the case for the PI Rahul. This is almost an Agatha Christie styled crime drama, full of possible murderers, although Maeve has upped the ante by setting it during the war and adding in spies. A quiet romp through a house of reprobates, but Rahul is engaging enough to bring us along for the ride. 4 stars.

Advanced reading copy provided by NetGalley for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 4, 2016 – Shelved

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