Gold Coast Blues: A Jules Landau Mystery, by Marc Krulewitch****

goldcoastblues“Tanya Maggio’s a missing person, and I got a feeling she’s missing on purpose.” This third entry of the Jules Landau series finds Landau searching for Eddie’s missing girlfriend. There’s a faded noir feeling in its pages as Landau bounces between Chicago and New Jersey trying to trace back the thread. Though confusing at times, a trifle overburdened by excess characters, it’s a fun, original story. Thank you once and thank you twice to Net Galley and Random House Alibi for the DRC. This title is available for purchase September 22.

The search for Tanya leads Landau to the mean streets of Irvington, New Jersey, where a crooked cop named Cooper explains that in their town, they don’t try stamp out crime…they manage it. So anyone that is hooked up to the criminal world is fair game; the idea, at least ostensibly, is that bystanders should not be caught in the crossfire.

Right.

Turns out the New Jersey people are running a scam. Those among the one percent that have more time and money than good sense invest in fine wine, wine that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for a case of a dozen bottles. Hey, its value appreciates, and some liken it to gold or silver. If a bottle gets busted, then that’s what insurance is for.

With a bizarre scenario such as this one, it’s only to be expected that someone would come up with the idea of counterfeiting labels and brewing up some fake stuff. After all, no one is going to drink it anyway, right? Who’s to know?

The plot twists, and it turns sometimes enough to confuse me. Hold up…are we in Illinois, or are we still in Jersey? But when push comes to shove, this romp is too enjoyable to walk away from. “That little shit Spike”, an heir to the Irvington mob, is one character that shines bright enough to keep those pages turning. Another, of course, is Landau’s ridiculous cat Punim, for whom he sits down to compose a legal trust fund when he is depressed and in danger. His own life may be on the line, but by god someone has to be paid to feed Punim his chicken hearts every day. And then there is Amy. Is she an enemy? A spy? She sure as hell isn’t really a psychic, but she knows enough that she has to be something. Maybe she has Tanya tied up in her closet. You never can tell.

The originality of the plot is assisted by Krulewitch’s affinity for figurative language. I loved his description of the “horror hotel” and the “stunningly verdant” house located on…wait for it…Bunnybrush Lane.

September is a good time to curl up under the quilts with a good book, or for those in warmer climes, it’s not too late to stretch out on the beach with one. Either way, if you need an escapist beach read, or a good noir mystery, this might be the book for you.

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