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* This has appeared on the review blog, "Michigan in Books." We thank them for this great review!

Retired cop Ray Kerze is a private eye with a rent-free office in an abandoned Detroit office building in which someone forgot to turn off the electricity and heat. It is all the office he can afford because what little money Ray makes supports a serious drinking problem. Business looks to be picking up when an attractive young woman finds her way to Kerzie's office and wants to hire him for a simple job. The woman wants Kerze to kill her. She will pay him with all the money she has in the world which amounts to $11.60.

And so begins one of the most original, captivating and entertaining mysteries I've read in some time. The woman's simple request leads to unpaid loan sharks, right-wing white supremacists looking for trouble, a crooked Detroit councilwoman, a corpse who comes back to life in the city morgue, and a plot with more twists and turns than a colander of al dente fettuccine.

Adding to the fun is that every chapter is narrated by a different character. So the point of view changes with every chapter and each new narrator takes the story in a new direction. The author does a great job of giving each character a distinctive voice and point of view. The dialogue is crisp and often funny and Bailey writes sentences I found myself underlining, such as, "His skin looked like a sheet of crumpled parchment and his neck rattled around his shirt collar like a soda straw in a bucket."

The different narrators may have readers wondering at times just where the plot is going but it all gets resolved in the conclusion and had me hoping for a sequel until I read the acknowledgments at the back of the book. It was written by the author's wife who thanked countless people and doctors whose encouragement and care helped Bailey complete the book even as he was dying from a Glioblastoma brain tumor. Which makes this book a living testament to this fine author's courage and tenacity, and makes it a certainty I will be searching libraries for his three earlier mysteries.


* May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month, but brain tumor patients and their families never get even a day off from these devastating tumors. Support them by donating to the American Brain Tumor Association, a nonprofit organization providing support services and programs for brain tumor patients and their families, as well as funding brain tumor research.

* In August 2011, Robert Bailey was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of malignant brain cancer. Bob had surgery and came through with flying colors! He continued to work on his next novel, DÉJÀ NOIR. Sadly, Bob suffered an inoperable recurrence but lived long enough to do one revision on DÉJÀ NOIR. He succumbed to cancer shortly after, on November 8, 2013. DÉJÀ NOIR is now available in print and eBook editions.

* DEJA NOIR earned a Kirkus review (no, NOT a paid one!), which we will post momentarily. For a traditional-style hardboiled PI novel, we really couldn't be happier with this review.


"As its title suggests, Bailey’s final novel is a valentine to the private-eye conventions that have seemed like clichés since about two weeks after they were presented as fresh and new a century ago.

Raymond Kerze can’t afford to be choosy about his clients. The only reason he can even afford to live in his office, after all, is that the building’s in foreclosure, and the city of Detroit doesn’t bother to bill its few remaining tenants for rent. But Ray really doesn’t want to take Misty Lake’s money. For one thing, she’s got only $11.60. For another, she’s offering it to him for killing her. Before she got laid off from her job as a waitress, she borrowed $500 from mobbed-up loan shark Benny Slick, and now her failure to keep up with the vig has ballooned her debt to $950, which might as well be a million. Since she’s Catholic, Misty can’t kill herself, though she seems to have no scruples about hiring Ray to push her out his office window (a no-go, since he’s on the second floor) or stand by as she provokes a pair of Aryan-tattooed skinheads lurking outside the building to stab her to death. As things work out, Misty doesn’t die, but Theodore Sorenson, one of the skinheads, does, unleashing mounting complications for Ray, Misty, Misty’s ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Enwright, Detective Tony Jackson, and Teddy’s skinhead pal John Doe, each of whom gets to tell part of the story. Or, if “story” is too strong a word, to present his or her carnival act in close-up before yielding to the next one and eventually to the final fade-out.

This pipe dream’s highly original narrative structure, consistently subordinating events to voices, allows Bailey (The Small Matter of Ten Large, 2012, etc.) and his readers to inhabit a series of characters that morph from cartoon tough guys and gals to people worth caring about once you get to see them from outside and inside."

Today's Featured Book

Private Detective and retired counterintelligence officer Art Hardin usually stays away from the flashy kind of PI work, paying his bills by doing surveillance, checking up on false disability claims, and the like. So when the senior partner one of the premier legal firms in Grand Rapids approaches Hardin about a job protecting his niece from her soon-to-be ex-husband for a couple of days, Hardin isn't exactly eager to take on the job, not the least because the niece herself is under house-arrest pending a murder investigation of her former boss...and the sudden disappearance of eleven million dollars...

From the Kindle version of Private Heat, published by Ignition Books. Available in print. Read more here