The Redhead
by H. M. Howington

"Just knowing a girl like this could get a guy into trouble sometimes. I was hoping it wouldn’t be this time."

The gumshoe is back. The Private Investigator who used to prowl the pages of pulps with handles like Phillip Marlowe, Sam Spade, or Travis McGee, has been re-imagined and brought back to life. The setting is a muggy Los Angeles soon after World War II. The seedy goings-on include blackmail, murder, and mayhem administered by beefy guys in suits and fedoras. True to form, the toughest one in town just might be the femme fatale who starts out as the damsel in distress. Or maybe not. As is usually the case in such intricately plotted potboilers, things are seldom as they seem.

McQuillen is the down-on-his-luck detective-for-hire who’s visited by the shapely redhead of the title. She tells him she’s being followed and wants his help, but she hides more than she shares, and once he’s committed to helping he soon finds himself in a web of lies, larceny, and dead bodies. Detailing more of the story would take away the fun of unraveling the mystery, but rest assured it’s one peopled with colorful characters true to the genre.

Ross Macdonald once said of Raymond Chandler that he “wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” The author of this tale never rises to the heights of Chandler or Macdonald, but he does employ a first-person staccato delivery that pulls you into the action and makes you want to know more. His dialogue and conversations are not as clipped as they might be, yet he’s fashioned an intriguingly complex plot that evokes memories of menacing shadows, wet streets, and noir classics. Looking for a fun read? Find The Redhead.

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