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One admitted problem with being a curmudgeonly foe of any variation from the pluperfect template of the private eye genre is that even the most die hard fan does want some variety. Walter Satterthwait's first Joshua Croft mystery manages to satisfy the taste for classic form by making his hero a pretty straightforward gumshoe -- with none of the extended family that has so misshapen the Robert B. Parker books and their imitators -- and the thirst for freshness by setting his series in Santa Fe and giving Croft a female boss, Rita Mondragon. Rita is confined to a wheelchair due to a shooting which is referred to but not explained, for which Croft blames himself. she seems an incipient love interest, but mercifully not yet, and, as the owner of the Mondragon Agency, serves almost the role of a Perry Mason or Ironsides, the brains behind Croft's legwork. There's also the tough cop, the inquisitive gangster, the frisky femme fatale, and so on. It's all enlivened by the Southwestern locale, which calls to mind Tony Hillerman, and by the pleasurable narration of Croft himself. Mr. Satterthwait serves up a goulash that'll please the classicist without seeming too formulaic to the casual reader. This looks like a series to follow.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Private Eyes
Walter Satterthwait Links:

    -ESSAY: AN APPRECIATION OF JAMES SALLIS (Walter Satterthwait, Scorpion Press)
    -ESSAY: AN APPRECIATION OF REGINALD HILL (Walter Satterthwait , Scorpion Press)
    -REVIEW: of THE FENCING MASTER By Arturo Perez-Reverte (Walter Satterthwait, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW: An Interview with Walter Satterthwait (Kaliber .38)
    -REVIEW: of Masquerade by Walter Satterthwait (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Perfection by Walter Satterthwait (Complete Review)

Book-related and General Links: