John Francis Cuddy was an investigator for the Empire Insurance Company until they decided his services were no longer needed. So, he figured he’d go it alone as a private detective. Luckily for him, shortly after being fired, he was contacted by Valerie Jacobs, the ex-girlfriend of a claims adjuster at Empire. She’s a teacher and it seems one of her students, Stephen Kinnington, had gone missing two weeks earlier, assumed a runaway. The police and private detectives hired by Stephen’s father, Judge Kinnington, have gotten nowhere. His grandmother thinks a fresh pair of eyes will help. However, the Judge must never find out about it.
Cuddy knows a lot of people in the Boston area and as he makes contact with them, he realizes that no one made much of an effort to find Stephen. The backstory is that four years earlier, when Stephen was eleven, his mother drove her car off a bridge. Although the car was recovered, no body was found. It affected Stephen so much that he was institutionalized for about a year.
Cuddy isn’t sure what caused Stephen to run after having been ‘normal’ for years. And being thwarted along the way, isn’t helping.
Blunt Darts by Jeremiah Healy is the first of 13 John Francis Cuddy mysteries plus one short story anthology. I love Boston as a setting for mysteries. I don’t know why, but I do. Cuddy is not over the recent death of his wife, his first and only true love. But while he’s grappling with the disappearance, he’s also got to deal with Valerie’s affection.
Blunt Darts is an easy going kind of mystery. It’s not hard-boiled. It’s not cozy. It’s comfortable. Is that a reasonable thing to say about a mystery? You have fun reading it and when you get to the end, you want more.
I previously blogged about Healy’s suicide. It’s sad that there will be no more Cuddy mysteries and even sadder that Healy found no other way out of his pain. I’d definitely call this a winner.