Friday, August 20, 2010

Fools Rush In

Ed Gorman's long-running series featuring Sam McCain, a somewhat naive, small town Iowa attorney and sometime private detective, has now advanced to 1963. In the South, the civil rights crusade is gathering momentum and in Black River Falls, Iowa, a black student named David Leeds has created a furor by dating the daughter of a white Republican Senator.

When Leeds is found murdered along with a white photographer, there is no shortage of suspects. Any number of Iowans, including the Senator who is running for re-election, were furious with Leeds. The bumbling police chief hasn't a clue and so McCain enters the fray. Sam is forced to mix it up with smarmy politicians, outlaw bikers, and the unsavory brothers of the blackmailing photographer. On the bright side though, the new female district attorney is bright, beautiful, and attracted to McCain.

Despite the violence, this is a gentle, nostalgic series that attempts to recapture the mood of an earlier, less complicated era. Even though we are now in the increasingly turbulent sixties, McCain is still the same innocent likable guy he was in The Day the Music Died, the series debut from 1999. McCain's caught up in the music and the culture of the age, and his love life reflects the standards of a different era. It's fun to watch him investigate the crime, even though it's hard to take his "investigation" all that seriously. But the real pleasure in reading these books comes from the era that they evoke.

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