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    MOBTOWN by Jack Kelly

    Hyperion, 2002

    Private detective Van Savage pays the bills doing divorce work--dependable work in 1950s Rochester N.Y. where infidelity is common and as the modern age is being born. When a beautiful woman walks into his office with a story about her husband, Savage thinks it's more of the same. When she tells him that her husband is trying to kill her, as he's killed two previous wives, Savage is curious. When he finds out that the husband is the major figure in Rochester's mob, he knows he's in trouble.

    Author Jack Kelly writes with a hard-hitting style that pays homage to the hard-boiled detectives of an earlier generation of mysteries while saying something fresh as well. His view of the 1950s as a time when the mob ruled, when honest cops were set up and destroyed, and when a day of hard work is followed by a night of hard drinking rings true. Savage is a sympathetic protagonist with family troubles and who just can't seem to stick to his own decision to keep his feelings out of what is going on.

    A couple of coincidences bring together Savage's cases in ways that strain but don't break credibility but otherwise MOBTOWN is a small gem.

    Four Stars

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