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Archive for the ‘Jeremiah Healy’ Category

There’s something about Boston P.I.s. They’re so ethical. When they make a Rescuepromise, they keep it, whether it be Parker’s Spenser, Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie or Healy’s John Cuddy. In Rescue, Cuddy is on Route 93 heading home when he sees a young girl (Melinda) and younger boy (Eddie) by the side of the road, their car with a flat tire. He pulls over and changes the tire.

Melinda and Eddie go off to the woods by the road side for a bit and a man in a blue pickup truck stops to see whether he can help. However, he seems more interested in the car and its occupants than helping. Having already finished changing the tire, Cuddy declines the offer and the man speeds on his way.

The next day, when Melinda’s body is found washed up on a river bank in Boston with her car nearby, Cuddy has his suspicions. Eddie, however, is nowhere to be found. Cuddy must honor his promise to Eddie, who asked “If I ever get lost or anything, would you come help me?” It reminds Cuddy, a Vietnam vet, of an unkept promise he made to one of his fellow soldiers three decades earlier.

Cuddy’s search takes him from the woods of New Hampshire to the Florida Keys and involves an evangelist, Royel Wyeth and his Church of the Lord Vigilant. It seems that Royel is ‘studying’ the Mark of Cain, a birthmark that makes Eddie a good subject.

While I enjoyed Rescue, I did have to suspend belief as I neared the end of the book. Actually, any mystery I read that has an evangelical bent to it forces me to suspend belief. Maybe that’s just me.

However, I really like John Cuddy as a character and Healy as a writer. There’s enough rough stuff, but it’s not overdone. There’s also the ‘typical girl comes on to P.I.’ stuff, but also not overdone. While Cuddy may not be as smart-mouthed as Spenser, he’s no dope and is not easily intimidated.

Rescue is the ninth book in the Cuddy series. I had probably read all the books in the series previously, but since Healy committed suicide earlier this year, I’ve re-read two of the books, the other one being the first in the series, Blunt Darts. If you’re looking for a good, entertaining mystery read, you really can’t go wrong with a Jeremiah Healy/John Cuddy mystery.

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John Francis Cuddy was an investigator for the Empire Insurance Company healy-bluntdartsuntil 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.

 

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healy-bluntdartsI sadly read that one of my favorite mystery writers, HealyJeremiah Healy, took his own life earlier this month. Healy who created the conflicted private investigator John Francis Cuddy series (first book-Blunt Darts) based in Boston won the Shamus Award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America, for The Staked Goat (1986). Many of his other books were nominated for the award.
What I didn’t know was that he also wrote under the pen name Terry Devane and created a legal drama featuring Mairead O’Clare and Sheldon Gold. I liked that series as well and wish there were more than the three books in it. Healy-AStainUponTheRobe
While I’m not sure I’ll re-read the entire Cuddy series, I’ve already reserved a copy of Blunt Darts.
Lastly I read and enjoyed Off Season and Other Stories Healy-OffSeasonwhich combines mysteries and the super-natural. So, if you’re looking for a great detective series (incidentally based in Boston) try John Francis Cuddy.

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NorthOfBostonNorth of Boston is a debut novel by Elisabeth Elo. Although a few elements were a little simplistic (i.e., the escape), this is a good first novel in what I hope will be a series. What grabs you right away is the main character, Pirio Kasparov, heir to a prominent perfume company, who is cynical, caring, tough yet sensitive, rebellious.

Pirio decides to do her friend Ned Rizzo a favor and help out on his lobster boat one Saturday. It’s a dark, foggy day. You can barely see from one end of the boat to the other. All of the sudden a ship is looming, not in the distance, but close by. It literally cuts the tiny lobster boat in half. In the seconds before impact, Ned tells Pirio to jump, thereby saving her life and losing his.

Everyone initially seems to think it was an accident. But as events begin to play out, it looks more and more like a deliberate act.

Elo combines an action packed, smartly written story with memorable characters, Pirio, Parnell, a journalist, Thomasina who was Pirio’s roommate and best friend starting in boarding school, and Noah, Thomasina’s ten year old son by Ned. Every character, including the ancillary ones, such as Milosa, Pirio’s father and Maureen, Milosa’s wife are important, given depth and personality.

Elo’s subject, illegal whaling, is something new for mystery buffs. The secondary subplot, perfuming, is also a new aspect to mysteries and Pirio’s enhanced olfactory senses come in handy in catching a killer.

Elo’s got stiff competition in the Boston based mystery genre: Robert Parker, Dennis Lehane, Linda Barnes, Jeremiah Healy. But she holds her own quite nicely.

I’ll admit that I skimmed a page or two when I wanted to move ahead and skipped a page or two related to killing whales or beating up Pirio (my sensitive nature couldn’t handle it), but on the whole, Pirio Kasparov and Parnell could develop into a really good mystery series. Give this one a try.

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