To the Devil, My Regards
by Victor Gischler & A. Neil Smith
Kindle Edition (2011)
In case you're wondering: No, the Devil does not appear in this novella. Z.Z. DelPresto, the narrator of this little tale, does have to go through hell to solve who murdered the daughter of his client.
DelPresto, is a private eye, eking out a living down south in Florida and Alabama. His latest client is an ill-tempered business mogul has hired him to tail the guy's wife, convinced she's being unfaithful. While doing so, DelPresto is confronted by the seventeen-year-old daughter, which winds up becoming a wild trist that ends with her dead and DelPresto caught by the police over her corpse with the knife in his hands. Uh oh.
After being released by police, following an intense--and briefly violent--interrogation, DelPresto hits the streets to find out who did it. But as much as he is on the hunt, others are hunting him. The story starts off very strong, with a great blend of humor and violence, as DelPresto basically gets his ass handed to him by cops and crooks alike. He tries to piece together who would have motive to kill the girl and not get killed himself in the process. Then, midway through the novella, there was a bit of a lull. At least to me it felt like the pace of the book had slowed or lost momentum, but by the third act it picks up again and offers a satisfying, albeit a familiar end.
It's not the kind of story that reinvents the wheel, but it is told with great precision, and wastes no time at all. This is a streamlined story that brings the goods. Fans of the private eye genre may be better equipped to say how well-worn the plot might be, but DelPresto was a great character through which to see the story told. If there are more collaborations in the works between Gischler and Smith, I say bring them on.