My Review of: Ray Irish Mystery Case Files #1 & #2 by Gordon Brewer
I think I found these two short pulp/noir detective mysteries via a freebie newsletter dealybob and went to the author's website to download a few samples. The writer is Gordon Brewer, and he had these two Ray Irish Case Files available for visitors. (Plus a short two-volume sword and sorcery e-book called Clovel Sword Saga which I've read and liked but have yet to review.)
The first Ray Irish mystery is titled Death Stalks the Runway and was quite intriguing and enjoyable. It starts out strong with a vicious crime, and the shamus (or private eye) is off and running, tracking down suspects as the tension mounts and the acts of violence increase. This story features a model and a suspicious agent - along with some gangsters and other nefarious players. The women the agent represents are living in fear, but a courageous 'dame' wants justice and Ray Irish is happy to seek it despite the danger to himself and his colleagues.
If you enjoy hard-boiled pulpy noir set in the 1940s, I think you'll like this first one. It's gritty and raw but well written and full of interesting characters. It's a short novella or a long novelet (about 65 pages), and is just the right length for this kind of adventure. I give it 4.5 stars.
The second Ray Irish mystery (Reaper Walks the Garden) is not as good as the first. Whereas Case File #1 bolts right out of the gate - with danger and fast pulpy action - Case File #2 opens with a grisly murder followed by lots and lots of talking. Lots and lots. The hard-boiled detective action didn't really start until a third of the way through. And for something this length (overlong at 95 pages), that's too far into the story for me to stay interested. So I skimmed to the end where everything was explained.
Basically, our shamus Mr. Irish tries to figure out who killed a dysfunctional woman in a dysfunctional family. Everyone's a suspect. But none of the characters grabbed me and they were all unlikable. Also, quite vulgar and violent. Like I said, it just didn't match the intrigue and engaging style of the first novelet. Not as strongly written, plus more than few typos which distracted me every now and then. Only 2.5 stars for this follow up mystery. But do grab the first one here.