[Just a short interlude of two posts before I'll pick up my Lago Maggiore posts again. I have a back log of several more book reviews to post; amazingly, these days I seem to be reading books faster than I can review them!]
"Always a Cold Deck" (Harry Reese Mysteries, Book 1) by Robert Bruce Stewart
The Harry Reese Mysteries all involve (surprise, surprise!) Harry Reese, an insurance investigator who is sent to work on cases by his employers, large insurance companies who suspect fraud in claims made to them. The time is the early 1900s (while the books were written from 2011 onwards), places vary within the US (and sometimes beyond).
In this first book of the series, Harry meets his future wife Emmie, an eccentric character who plays an important role in solving the case Harry has come to solve in Buffalo. From the author's website about the series, I gather that he has created a spin-off of mysteries where Emmie is the main character. As I did like Emmie (and Harry, for that matter), I may have a look at her own series.
Now back to "Always a Cold Deck": What could be a pretty straightforward case - a grain elevator destroyed by fire; was it insurance fraud or not? - turns into a complex mix of entangled mysteries, ranging from smuggling to men leading double lives to murder. Not everyone is who they seem to be, and things are not being made easier by Harry's employers behaving strangely on the one hand and the company of Emmie, who seems to have her own agenda, on the other.
But in the end, all is disentangled, and the stage is neatly set for Book 2.
A well-written story, needing a bit of time for getting into it but then picking up pace. Characters are funny and unique, and although I am no expert on the early 1900s in the US, I believe the historical details have been well researched.The humour is contemporary without being vulgar. I can see why, according to the author's website, his writing has been compared to P.G. Wodehouse's.
Definitely an author to keep on my list of want-to-read-more-ofs.