A DEADLY VENTURE (A Max Dexter Mystery)
Review by Don Graves, who was the long-time mystery reviewer for The Hamilton Spectator. Don is now to be found at Canadian Mystery Reviews by Don Graves, presented by A Different Drummer Books, Burlington.
“Chapter one: no fooling around here. Max’s buddy, a local cop, is on the phone telling him that Max’s painter friend, Roger Bruce, is at the Barton Street jail on a charge of murder.
Max, the private eye with a limp and his gorgeous partner, Isabel are on the case.
The writing is fast, sharp with that rapid fire texture and gumshoe cadence. The setting post World War II Hamilton, complete with the Connaught Hotel, jars of beer at forty cents and an atmosphere that simply propels the story into that “I can’t put it down” category.
Max’s network is hard at it. High end waiters, war amp survivors selling pencils on the street corner, his cheap, with a heart of gold uncle reporter at the Spectator, all add to the inevitable but genuinely surprising climax.
What makes A Deadly Venture stand out? It’s fine story telling with no presumptions other than to entertain and turn the clock back to the days when the QEW was just open. Cities across the free world were picking up the pieces, and people were trying to create new lives with what they had left. Add the shadow of the local mob that are out to discourage Max and Isabel, this becomes a series to look forward to, one with staying power and a unique take on the historical mystery.”
Winnner of the 2015 Kerry Schooley Award, Hamilton Arts Council
Can’t put the book down!
By Peter Homulos on Amazon.ca, Dec 22 2014
“Can’t put the book down! The author managed to braid his story within the context of Hamilton at the time. This murder mystery is very well written: the language is colorful and one cannot resist the “Gillette-sharp” humor sprinkled throughout the detours of the story. A must for thriller lovers!”
Reliving Post-War Hamilton
John_Seedhouse on Indigo/Chapters
☆☆☆☆4 out of 5 stars.
“Friends to whom I had praised and recommended last year’s ‘A Private Man’, Chris Laing’s first novel, subsequently met the author, and are thanked in his second novel’s Acknowledgements for their indirect contributions. Those friends presented me with an autographed and inscribed copy of that second, ‘A Deadly Venture’.
Less than 200 pages in length, ‘A Deadly Venture’ is as fascinating and delightful a historical novel as was ‘A Private Man’, set in post-war Hamilton, truly rich in period trivia. Both novels are authentic to the pulp fiction style of the second half of the 1940s, in which they are set. Max Dexter is a private eye à la Sam Spade, ineligible to rejoin the RCMP or engage in police work due to a war injury to his leg, with an “easy-on-the-eyes” assistant named Isabel O’Brien. The reader almost has to root for these two getting together! Max and Isabel run afoul of the Mob, a true presence in Hamilton in that era, as they try to track down a killer who has framed Max’s artist friend Roger Bruce. The plot is excellent, the mystery quite genuine, but it’s Hamilton, the atmosphere, and the period trivia that will hook any reader who remembers those times or who finds Hamilton’s colourful history of interest.
✔ Yes, I recommend this product.”