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3.0 out of 5 stars Solid P.I. Debut Drifts Too Far Into Conspiracy Thriller Territory, 5 May 2010
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Drink the Tea (Hardcover)
I'll read pretty much any crime novel about my hometown of Washington, D.C. -- heck I'll read just about any contemporary fiction about D.C. So, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up this debut, featuring a struggling D.C. private eye in his mid-30s. Willis Gidney grew up rough, in and out of foster homes and city-run orphanages, and he still bears the scars of those years. Now, he ekes out a living serving papers and spying on cheating husbands and wives. However, one evening, he sits down for a drink with his friend Steps Jackson, a famous jazz musician (Speaking of which, can we please have a moratorium on detectives and cops who are jazz aficionados? It seems like every third crime novel features a protagonist with a one in a million appreciation for rare jazz.), and is asked to do something a little more unusual -- track down his long-lost daughter.

The missing persons case embroils Gidney in all kinds of dangerous situations, from confronting strapped street hoodlums to the far more dangerous denizens of Congress, not to mention a murky Blackwateresqe private security firm. And of course, a love interest in introduced, who is able to help him with all things computer-related. I quite liked Gidney as a character, and I found his backstory pretty interesting, and the details about DC are right on the nail (parking features prominently). However, the story veers way off into a Grisham-like conspiracy involving powerful multinational corporations, crooked Congresspeople, explosions, and things of that ilk (which requires a large coincidence to help resolve). I prefer my crime stories to be at a smaller, more mundane scale (think Elmore Leonard, think George Pelecanos, etc), more on the streets and less in the corridors of power, and so the story didn't fully engage me. Still, it's a decent debut, and Gidney is a promising character I'll definitely revisit if he has more cases forthcoming.
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Drink the Tea
Drink the Tea by Thomas Kaufman (Hardcover - 1 April 2010)
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