Catch My Killer (The First Sam Truman Mystery)
by Ed Kurtz
When it comes to urban fantasy, I enjoy the grittier styles that emulate or incorporate noir elements into the story. Such is the case with Catch My Killer, though I don't think this series of novellas is marketed as UF.
Sam Truman, the title character, is a down-on-his-luck private eye--so down in fact that he isn't even a P.I. anymore, legally speaking--holed up in a seedy hotel in 60s era New York. Things go from bad to worse when he busts up a robbery at his favorite diner, killing the young perp in the process. Things go worse to royally screwed when the dead guy shows up at his doorstep, apparently not as dead as he'd thought. Oh, the kid's dead all right, just possessed by the spirit of a person looking for help in catching their killer.
The atmosphere is all there. I could practically feel the grime on my Kindle as I read this book. And Sam Truman is the kind of hero I like, with a moral compass and a wonky way of following it. He feels familiar in a lot of ways if you've read your fair share of gumshoe diaries, but avoids feeling like a cliche. And the rabbithole adventure he goes on in tracking down a killer is really fun one, with a great blend of crime and horror.
Where the book faltered for me was in the almost cavalier manner he accepts the fact he's been hired by a ghost inhabiting a corpse. Within minutes, he's shooting the breeze with a zombie like it's another day at the office. I don't recall any mention of him already being initiated to the supernatural, so this strained by suspension of disbelief. In fact, it seemed like his client felt more shocked by these events than Sam.
Still, I managed to look past that niggling detail, and once I did I found a quick, entertaining mystery. It certainly enjoyed it enough to put the second installment, The Last Invasion, on my wish list. Each installment is written by a different author, much like Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin's The Dead Man series, and I've had a blast with those books. This is the Sam Truman Mystery and I'm glad it won't be the last.