I have to admit that I always enjoy Jeffery Friedberg’s writings. I particularly like his main character Jack Vane. Many authors just run a character into the dirt. But not Jeffrey Friedberg. There is always something new and scary to be uncovered with Jack.

For those of you not familiar with Jack Vane, he is a Private Investigator who just can’t quite grasp the idea of retirement. He loves the thrill of the chase, he has made, and lost fortunes in his day, unfortunately life is currently a day to day challenge. Red White And Dead Again finds Jack Vane in one of his ‘downturns’, bills are piling up, and the bank account is piling down. Jack likes his ‘toys’, but at this rate Jack might be forced to sell (or have them repossessed by the banking hounds yipping at his heels).

Jack Vane is at best a little ‘shop soiled’. Too old to be new, too well known to be unnoticed, and too set in his ways to change. Jack is Jack! Jack’s only failure is his inability to know how to fail. The word is not in his dictionary, so consequently over the years he has managed to annoy virtually every Government Agency and also the vast proportion of Organized Crime.

Red White And Dead Again once more finds Jack Vane on some very thin ice. He is too useful to kill, but to dangerous to let live. The story is set in the present day, but the plot has its roots in events that took place in 1945. Jeffrey Friedberg opens the book with a rather chilling quote from Robert Oppenheimer uttered on July 16, 1945 at the Trinity A-Bomb test site.

Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds

The world did see the awesome destructive power of the Atomic Bomb when the B-29 Enola Gay piloted by Paul Tibbets dropped it on Hiroshima. It was not long before an even more awesome vehicle of destruction called the Hydrogen Bomb was developed.

Jeffrey Friedberg in White Red And Dead Again suggests that there was actually a third type of bomb being designed, known as the Hell Bomb. A device one million times as powerful as ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’. Is it possible that after all these years the Hell Bomb plans are still waiting to be found?

Jack’s ‘client’ is doing little to help his queasy tummy. She looks mob, she acts mob, she is MOB! Madam Sofhia Gambeno-Lanskie is not a lady to be trifled with. Her entourage while easy on the eyes, are obviously well trained and likely to break bones if riled up!

Jack Vane needs the money, but he knows that taking on this case will rile up those that would prefer that our Gumshoe kept his nose out. The Alphabet groups (Three letter acronyms) from Washington are bound to want a piece of the action. Actually they will want all of the action, and complete control.

Jack doesn’t have many friends, but there are a few that he trusts, and off he goes! He has no leads, and few places to turn for help. Jack Vane has a great way of becoming Jack Pain (in the butt), so it does not take long for all of the right and wrong people to want to spend a little ‘quiet time’ with Jack.

But, that is only one side of the story! Jeffrey Friedberg ‘dovetails’ the story of what actually happened in 1945. A Thief/Spy meets an assassin! Both have reasons to want the secret plans, and both have very different goals. 1945 was a long time ago, the thief and assassin are long dead. They were dead in the hours following the heist. Or were they?

Red White And Dead Again is a delightful romp into the world of the adventure/thriller genre. There are plenty of twists in the ‘literary’ road, and once again Jeffrey Friedberg delivers!

Simon Barrett

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