Simeon Grist is a Private Eye operating in the colourful world of California. He has a need to protect the vulnerable and a quick sharp wit that he uses at every opportunity. How’s this for a description of a rainstorm?
‘Everybody was standing in doorways looking like bums, except for the real bums, who were using the shower to get clean.’
In ‘The Four Last Things’ Grist is working 2 cases, one for the shady security chief of a record company and another where he’s trying to locate the cat belonging to his sour landlady.
For the record company, he’s to follow a lovely lady called Sarah Oldfield. Not that we’re left in any doubt about Sarah’s fate, even from the opening lines:
‘I was just beginning to like her when she got killed.’
His investigation involves plenty of opportunity for a typically hard-boiled exploration of LA.
It’s not long before Grist is working on Sarah’s murder investigation gratis, fuelled by the need to find justice for her. This takes him into the world of a wealthy religious sect working out of Big Sur.
Overall, the detective work, the one-liners and the action prove to be very satisfying. Some of the explorations of the bigger questions of life dilute the power from time-to-time, but for anyone looking for new dimensions for their detective fiction, they can certainly find them here.