Tuesday 29 October 2019

Pretty City Murder - Robert E. Dunn

Pretty City Murder
Robert E. Dunn
ISBN 9781732379312
ISBN 9780692106549


This book was suggested to me by a friend on Facebook. When I went looking for it Found a different Robert E. Dunn and also books by an E. Robert Dunn. To the best of my knowledge this is the first and currently the only book by this Robert E. Dunn. The book has mixed reviews. People either seem to really like it or really not. Now I read well over 100 books a year and the last few years have read over 300. I tend to be a little gentler in reviewing the debut novel by authors. But did not need to extend much grace for this volume.

There were many things I liked about this book. It took me back about 20 years when I read a lot of Robert B. Parker and Andrew M. Greeley. And the settings in and around San Francisco remind me of the writings of Christopher Moore. In fact, I kept expecting the King of San Fran to make an appearance. It reminds me of the earlier mystery writers, in that it is a detailed procedural process investigation. Larry Leahy reminds me a lot of Spencer in the Spencer for Hire books and show. The religious, and specifically Catholic elements remind me of the fiction by Greeley.

The quick summary of this story about a priest, a policeman, and a hotel owner could be the beginning of a joke. But the story is anything but funny. Larry Leahy is an inspector up for a promotion. James O’Hare is a womanizing hotel owner, sole proprietor of the Greenwich Grand Hotel. Father Ralph MacKenzie SJ, is in an inappropriate relationship with a woman friend when his brother is murdered. The three friends’ have chosen diverse paths in life, but all remember their promise to look after the victim, who though a little slow had carved out a life for himself.

The cast of characters in this tale is as diverse at the real-world San Francisco. And the story could be taken from tabloid or news headlines. The story travels all over the city from North Beach to Chinatown, to the iconic Golden gate Bridge. The mystery is written in fine details. And the characters are what really make the story. A reader cannot but hope to encounter Lahey, MacKenzie and Trang again in another story. The characters are what make this story so gripping. And some of them are struggling to do the best they can, others are just trying to hold on to their reputation, money, and status in society.

As a first novel it is very impressive, and I hope we are treated to more from Dunn’a pen. We just need to keep all the Dunn’s clear.

Note: this is a story by a Catholic novelist, and the story has Catholic elements, but you have a Priest kissing a woman. A man having multiple affairs. And other elements that not all readers would appreciate.

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