Editor Jochem Vandersteen crafted a very good read with The Shamus Sampler and does it again with The Shamus Sampler II. The 13 stories in the book are all good ones though they go about things in very different ways. By doing so the authors show in very practical terms the argument put forth by author Timothy Hallinan in the introduction that the private investigator comes in many different flavors and those mean streets can be just about anywhere and may not always be all that mean.
The book opens with “Bobby’s Bar” by Graham Smith. Having your office near the bar you frequent can be a good things as well as a nuisance. In this case it is a bit of both though the dead woman in the bar’s office is most definitely having the worse day. Bobby needs help and Leonard Peters isn’t about to say no.
“Brain Mistrust- A Vic Valentine Vignette” by Will Viharo follows with private investigator Vic Valentine. He should be in San Francisco as that is his home address according to his PI license in his wallet. But, the view out the window indicates Chicago as does the folded newspaper on the nightstand, and he has no idea how he got there. He seems to have lost a few days as well as picked up a bedroom companion that is very naked, but also thankfully alive. Hopefully when she wakes up she will have some idea what is going on as he is pretty much clueless.
Likes Graham Smith, Peter DiChellis is back in The Shamus Sampler II. This time it is an art case in a tale titled “With Cunning Wickedness.” Mr. Wellington Cathcart has had some paintings stolen out of his 200 year old family mansion. Carthcart has a suspect in mind and wants the private investigator to get them back in a tale that is sequel to the previous story.
It has been two years and Dale Burnett has gotten away with murder. He didn’t do the crime himself, but hired a well-known criminal idiot, Tommy Kane, to do the deed of killing Dale’s wife, Brenda. Her father Bob Allen just wants justice and is paying more than money in “Exceptions to the Rule” by Phillip Thompson. It is a complicated case with many moving parts and reminiscent of a Mike Hammer style tale.
Mark Troy in next with his tale “IFHC” set in Hawaii. Ava Rome (The Splintered Paddle” and the novella The Rules) hates Christmas with a passion. The holiday has brought her nothing but grief over the years so she helps others who want a day off to spend with family. A private investigator who is perfectly willing to tend bar or wait tables is a rarity in the islands. Irene Ao, manager of the Long Board Beach Shack, is willing to give Ava an opportunity to work. The bar has a history, but then again so does Ava. A robbery Christmas evening and the aftermath will add legend to both.
The story is set in England and the missing medal is from long ago soccer glory, but the tale is one that will strike a chord in all readers. Jimmy Jazz (a Joe Geraghty story) by Nick Quantrill is about family legacy and pain as well as much more. A medal needs to come back home and some family dynamic issues need straightening out one way or another.
It is a dingy office in a dingy strip mall two blocks away from the jail on the day before Thanksgiving. The name of the P. I.is Jake Roberts though everybody calls him “Jake the Snake” for some wrestler. Rebecca, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy man named Charles Faulkner needs help and her brother is willing to pay to get it in “The Season OF Brotherly Love” by Michael Koenig. Fancy lawyers can’t do anything but maybe a down on his luck P. I. who rents a desk from a local bail bondsman can. If not, Rebecca could be in prison for a long time.
“Burned Down to the Heart” by Gareth Spark comes next in a tale where the father of a female friend wants a guy found. A wife of a guy named Rick died and Rick needs to be found so he can be told. He knows the guy is 40, that his full name is Rick Saltmarsh, and that he is English. The hunt begins in a very complicated tale.
Mr. Simeon Von Runck is clearly an oddball from the get go in “The Hard Boiled Detective No 3: Simon Von Ruck” by Ben Solomon. It isn’t just because he keeps asking if you have ever planned a murder? Discussing it at a party seems odd, but the strange Mr. Runck has his reasons.
“The First Time He Smelled Fresh Death” by Michael W. Clark does double duty in this book as a short story as well as being an excerpt from The Ambivalence of Good and Evil. Marlow is still recovering from recently being shot which resulted in his having to get a new Kevlar vest. While working out his mind drifts back to the first bloody crime scene he had seen years earlier while teaching.
Jet keeps hearing threatening voices every morning at precisely 2:30 am. He wants his old police partner to figure out what is going on in “Voices” by Nick Andreychuk. Internal affairs knows that Jim “The Jet” Jenkins was a crooked cop. His partner knew too though he never took a dime of the money. If Jets wants to help for old time sake he is going to pay.
Nick Forte has little patience for fools in “Zero Tolerance” by Dana King. He is also a father and what upsets his daughter upsets him. Some folks just need a reality check.
Editor Jochem Vandersteen comes next with a tale that does not feature Noah Milano. Instead, this tale features a roady who works at the private investigator thing as a hobby. When in town Lenny Parker works out of a Thai restaurant and that is where his latest client, Howard Bagley, meets him. Howard has a daughter who is showing up with lots of new stuff she can’t afford. The answers she gives are bogus and he knows it. Howard is worrying about how she is paying for these things and wants Lenny to discreetly find out the real truth in “Girl Gone Wild.”
As in the first book, the tales of The Shamus Sampler II are complicated with plenty of back story, competing agendas, and folks often at their worst. The stories here feature characters full of nuance where nothing is as it appears and everyone involved has an agenda in a read that moves around the world. In a number of cases the private investigator is never named while in others the tales are linked to series featuring the private investigator. Regardless of the setup, all the tales are executed very well resulting in a very good read well worth your time.
The Shamus Sampler II
Edited by Jochem Vandersteen
Sons Of Spade Publisher
168 Pages (estimated)
Word file submitted by the editor in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014