Thursday, November 5, 2015

Detective Hoke Moseley Faces Complicated Problems Both at Home and on the Job

New Hope for the Dead is the second novel in Charles Willeford’s Hoke Moseley series, following Miami Blues. Hoke is a middle-aged Miami P.D. homicide detective who’s been gutted financially by a divorce and has been reduced to living in a tiny room in a run-down residential hotel that is inconveniently located just outside the Miami city limits. Inconveniently, because Hoke’s boss has just laid down the law and announced that the department will begin rigorously enforcing the requirement that all city police officers must actually live in Miami. Hoke has only a couple of weeks to find a new place to live, a herculean task given his financial straits and the scarcity of affordable housing in the city.

To compound his difficulties, Hoke’s ex-wife has decided to move from Florida to California to live with a major league baseball player who’s just signed a huge new contract. The ball player is not enamored of Hoke’s fourteen and sixteen year-old daughters and so, with no forewarning, the ex-wife packs up the girls and ships them off to live with Hoke who hasn’t had any contact with his daughters in years.

Things are almost as bleak on the job front. Hoke’s ambitious boss is bucking for a promotion and as a part of his campaign, he details Hoke, Hoke’s former partner Bill Henderson, and Hoke’s new partner Ellita Sanchez to compromise a three-person cold case squad and assigns them fifty old cases. The Major figures that even if the team only solves a few of them it will make him look good and assure his promotion. But these cases are virtually all dogs with very little hope of solutions.

Meanwhile, Hoke and Ellita have caught a death call that appears to be a simple heroin O.D. The young male victim is found the house of his shapely stepmother with whom he has been rooming. The case itself seems a slam dunk, but it’s going to take time and effort to get the case processed and the paper work done. On the bright side, though, Hoke sees romantic possibilities with the stepmother who owns a flower shop and who readily agrees that she might enjoy lunching with Hoke someday soon.

Complications ensue as they usually do, on virtually every front of Hoke’s life. In and around working his cases and training his new partner, he’s got to find a new home and the days are dwindling down to a precious few on that front. All in all, it’s a very entertaining story with a lot of humor. Willeford was a master at this sort of thing and he develops both the plot and his characters with a sure hand. A very good sequel to the novel that introduced Hoke Moseley.

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