THE RAGGED END OF NOWHERE by Roy Chaney
Minotaur Books (November 10, 2009), 272 pages
My luck as of late with new authors and debuts in this genre has not been good so I was pleasantly surprised with The Ragged End Of Nowhere. Reminiscent of Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer series, this book is an old fashioned gum-shoe mystery combined with a little post-Cold War espionage.
Our protagonist, Bodo Hagen, after 10 years in Europe working for the CIA, is summoned back home to Las Vegas to bury his murdered younger brother. Bodo, who has some time on his hands, decides to “informally” run his own investigation to find the culprit - reacquainting himself with old connections and Sin City, running into some mayhem, and becoming involved in a Maltese Falcon-like quest.
There is a very good set of a secondary characters here – Bodo’s old flame, an older police officer not so subtly looking over Bodo’s shoulder, a friend of the family nicknamed “The Sniff”, a crooked casino owner with smarmy henchmen, a French art curator, a “fence” nicknamed “Winnie the Poof” and Bodo’s younger brother’s associates from the French Foreign Legion – all of whom have some “skin in the game” – popping up and more than occasionally causing trouble as our hero makes his “inquiries”.
There are a few clunky scenes, particularly a few flashbacks and when the reader is privy to Bodo’s sometimes mundane thought processes and “secret” epiphanies. But these digressions are minimal and overall the story’s flow proceeds at a very quick clip.
The Ragged End of Nowhere is a solid debut.
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