Like Ross Macdonald's empathic private eye, Lew Archer, Stuart M. Kaminsky's Lew Fonesca is well acquainted with psychological hardships. Only in Fonesca's case, the problems are mostly his own, rather than his clients'. His wife's unsolved car-accident death in Chicago several years ago left him clinically depressed. "Close to suicidal a few times," he explains in Midnight Pass, "but my therapist assures me Iím not psychotic." It also led to Fonesca's escape to sunny Sarasota, Florida. Nowadays, when he isn't watching old movies or otherwise trying to hide away from the world, he takes on process-serving assignments as well as investigative work for people with daunting troubles of their own.|
This includes people such as the Reverend Fernando Wilkins, who in this third Fonesca outing (after Vengeance and Retribution) hires the outwardly unremarkable, "poor but honest" Italian sleuth to locate a dying county councilman, William Trasker, who's vanished just prior to a decisive vote on reopening a controversial waterway. Did Trasker hie off for a last-breath fling, leaving his former movie-star wife behind? Or was he kidnapped for political purposes--perhaps by shady landowner and baseball fanatic Kevin Hoffman, a man with a hefty financial stake in that waterway's future? Distracted by a coterie of eccentric secondary players (including a homeless gent, intent on remaking himself as a dance instructor), and under the care of a shrink who believes he can overcome his dolorousness with joke-telling (a story line that Kaminsky plumbs for wonderfully dry comedic effect), Fonesca hardly seems like the sort one would turn to in a crisis. Yet he manages in Midnight Pass not only to unearth Trasker, but to help a wayward wife charged with murdering her lover and save himself from being ventilated by a sniper with atrocious aim.
The story contains some too-convenient turns, such as an assault on Fonesca at the site of the disputed waterway. But Kaminsky is generally a shrewd plotter, his fiction striking a fine balance between action, humor and the quirkiest of characterizations. This series' despondent protagonist might be the only one not entertained by the results.
Source: J. Kingston Pierce, Amazon.com.
Lew Fonesca is a guy just trying to get along. When his wife died in a senseless auto wreck, he got up and left his old life--and when his car gave out in sunny Sarasota, Florida, he stayed. He takes small process-serving gigs and various odd jobs helping people out, and he tries, although maybe not as hard as he should, to fix the gaping hole in his heart.
But for a man who just wants to ease through life without any complications, Lew has a pretty full plate. The shrink that Lew's been seeing for more than a year wants him to finally dump all the grief that he's carrying around so he can have more than a half-life. And Sally, the pretty single mom and social worker who has helped Lew in the past, wants to deepen their friendship. On top of that, a local minister asks him to find a town council member who has gone missing just before a crucial vote that could ruin a struggling community, and a distraught father comes to Lew to track down his wife and two kids, whom Lew suspects ran off with the man's best friend.
When people start showing up dead, Lew knows he's in way over his head--and this time he may not be able make it all come out okay.