WHITE WITH FISH, RED WITH MURDER by Harley Mazuk (A Frank Swiver Novel)
Released Feb 28, 2017 by Driven Press
Mr. Mazuk says he enjoys “old school” pulp and private eye fiction. Consequently, you know what to expect from his novels – fun noir – and you are not disappointed. His protagonist is private eye Frank Swiver, a connoisseur of wine, fine and not so, and big-breasted women, willing and not so. Hard-drinking, hard loving, rarely sleeping and being shot at all the time fills the bill with this noir. With characters reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett’s Maltese Falcon, they are all the more fun because Mr. Mazuk knows how to use them well. Along with a train car full of suspects, he sends the reader to the post-war world of Napa Valley wines. And we go willingly.
To his credit, Mr. Mazuk has created a protagonist who is his own person. Just when you expect Swiver to go one way, he goes another. He makes the unexpected choice or says the unexpected thing making his character seem more real and likable. He rescues a cat named Chardonnay because he feels he has to. Of course, the cat later dies – once again, in an unexpected turn of events – but the rescue is an interesting character beat.
Which leads me to my only criticism. The deceased cat seemed to be still laying in the trunk of his car at story’s end, which took place days later. I pondered on that. I think it’s better for a writer to complete or finish off a plot device – sometimes it only takes a sentence or phrase – rather than risk leaving a reader dangling with a ‘what happened to’ thought lingering in their minds.
But all in all, this is a good novel, with colorful characters, interesting dialog and a crackerjack plot. Frankly, it was a surprise to me who ‘did’ it. And that speaks well for any mystery.
Review provided by Heather Haven