Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Feisty attorney dukes it out with the Mob

1
Identity Crisis
Debbi Mack
Wild Blue Press
4th Edition Aug. 2015
Kindle $5.99  Trade paper $11.99

Attorney Sam McRae has a more than troublesome case.  Her missing client is accused of murder and implicated in a bank scandal.  Sam’s affair with a married prosecutor—who is likely not going to leave his wife—weighs on her often.  And as she tries to locate her missing client, she’s followed by a black Lincoln.  “Something about the design suggested a rolling black casket.”

Driving a beat-up Mustang convertible, Sam chases from Maryland to Pennsylvania to track down her client, shadowed by the Mob and worried that someone connected to the case is trying to steal her identity.  The engaging, fast-moving story readsidentity-crisis-debbi-mack like the PI novel that it is, even though the protagonist is an attorney.  Sam has more instinct, determination and guts than most male investigators, and she manages to stay one step ahead of the cops.

Sam meets a nosy neighbor with alcohol and garlic breath, a private eye who is either stalking her or there to save her, a woman with a scarred face and a “three-pack-a-day voice” and an upper-crust strip club owner with something to hide. Add in Mob figures made from equal parts menace and violence plus eccentric federal agents and you have an entertaining—and upsetting—cast of characters.

Finally, the story is decorated with lively language and descriptions:

Derry’s companion was tall and gangly, as if loosely constructed of mismatched bones.

Forget it, I thought.  I might as well go outside and ask a fire hydrant.

Jamila had been a good friend of mine since law school, but with any luck, nobody would hold that against her.

The title Identity Crisis carries several meanings.  Sam, of course, faces several crises of identity: her standing as an attorney, her personal credit that’s being heisted and her relationship with her married lover.  Ultimately the reader and Sam face the crisis of identifying the murder in this satisfying mystery.  I didn’t, but could have figured it out given the details in the case.  You’ll have lots of fun trying to sort it out, too.

—————-

Debbi Mack is a student of the detective novel and it shows. She’s also a fan of noir and Hitchcock. Her blog regularly features reviews of Hitchcock films and lesser known noir pictures.  Debbimack.com is good place to go when you’re not reading her books. You can listen to her podcast, The Crime Cafe, here:   https://player.fm/series/crime-cafe

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