Chapter 1 of "The Purple Heart Detective Agency" opens with many of the trademarks of a classic Dashiell Hammett whodunit ... it's a sun-drenched day on the streets of L.A., and hard-boiled detective Clayton Grace is sitting across the desk from a beautiful dame who is offering him what appears to be a simple and straightforward 'missing person' case.
Fans of detective fiction will know, of course, that there's bound to be much more to the case ... you know there will be a colorful and entertaining array of supporting characters popping-up in the chapters that follow ... and there will be speculation that the dame may be offering Grace more than a retainer at some point.
It isn't long, though, before author Rock Neelly begins following his own path, and taking us along for a journey that will have more than its share of surprising twists and unexpected turns. In fact, he first sets foot on that path BEFORE the start of Chapter 1 ... whatever else you may skip in your reading, do NOT pass over the prologue.
It will go a long way to understanding Grace and his partner, Roddy O'Mallery. A pair of Iraq War veterans, wounded in body and spirit, they have lost so much in the course of their service ... but they have also gained much of what they will need to see an increasingly-complex, increasingly-dangerous case to the end
I say 'complex' ... perhaps 'bizarre' might be more appropriate at times. More than once, I was reminded of the fiction of Arturo Pérez-Reverte as our protagonists must deal with the something that may be more than charade or showmanship, but may actually be supernatural.
If I have a complaint, it may be that there is too much of a good thing ... to many plot lines, too many characters, too many back stories and flashbacks to the war, too much time taken to get to the story's conclusion.
My recommendation? Read every page, start to finish ... go ahead and speculate about what awaits you down that path, before you arrive at the denouement ... and enjoy the journey whether you're right or wrong about the final destination.
NOTE: I received a copy of this work through LibraryThing in exchange for a review.