a very nice, tightly written, series starter…
I’m a big fan of police (or PI) procedurals and often not so much a fan of noir. But I really liked Max Tomlinson’s blend of the two in Vanishing in the Haight.
First, I very much enjoyed Tomlinson’s writing, which I found to be crisp and concise – always a good thing!
Next, there was quite a nice cold-case puzzle, with clues to find and leads to follow up, which kept my procedural side engaged. And, it was sort of fun to remember what things were like back when you had to have a dime for the pay phone, background information had to be looked for in a library or archive, xerox copiers weren’t a given, and leg-work literally meant leg-work. (Yes, I’m that old.) Also, since I lived near San Francisco in the late 60s/late 70s, I really enjoyed the period descriptions of the city, many of which felt quite familiar.
Tomlinson also did a nice job of the noir-ish elements in this story. In general, I’m not that thrilled by angsty noir protagonists struggling against cover-ups by powerful people above. But, although Colleen Hayes fits a lot of the profile of a classic noir protagonist, she’s enough different (female, pretty calm, a survivor of a prison term after killing her abusive ex, trying to re-establish a relationship with the daughter that the ex had abused) that I felt a connection with her. And so I found myself hoping not only that she would find the killer, but that things would work out for her personally.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series soon. Please note that for me, 4 stars out of 5 is a really good rating, and means I really recommend the book. I try to fight star-flation a bit, and don’t give many 5-star ratings. But, I actually liked this book a bit more than a normal 4-stars, so I’m giving it a 4 1/2. And finally, my thanks to Edelweiss and Ocean View Publishing for the advance review copy.