A reminder that lost classics are usually “lost” for a reason.
When I read Act of Fear a few months ago, I was so excited to discover a new series. A character heavily inspired by Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer but set in New York City. I never expected these books to rise to the level of Macdonald’s work but I thought they would scratch the itch.
They do not. Instead, I’m reminded of why I don’t often read a full series of books, especially mysteries. While Macdonald aped himself plenty, he was such a quality writer that you could look past it in favor of another engrossing tale. Such is not the case with the Dan Fortune series.
Now granted, Michael Collins (aka Dennis Lynds) does share some similarities with his inspiration. The deep sense of empathy is there. So is the focus on our past misdeeds and how we cannot avoid them.
Nevertheless, with this one, it felt too derivative of some of his other books. Collins occasionally likes to have his protagonist explore the socio-ethnic background of the people involved. He sometimes handles this well and sometimes does not. Here, the folks hail from eastern Europe, mostly but not only the Ukraine.
Which should make it interesting. The problem is execution. About 60% of this book consists of people rambling on about the Ukraine, the USSR, the need for revolution, the loss of revolution, etc. It doesn’t add depth to their characters, instead it makes them cyphers for a history lesson. Halfway through, I stopped keeping up with who was on what side of the argument and just let it ride.
The other 39% is Dan getting hit on the head or beat up. Granted, this is a common trope in PI novels but Collins is in book eight of the series and should have a more organic way of getting his guy in and out of situations. One of the characters winds up in Bellevue and, frankly, I think Dan should have made a trip there as well.
The last 1% is exclamation points. There are a lot (!) of exclamation points. Which again, is an early author problem; they take away any sort of suspense.
I’m gonna push through the next two in the series because they’re the two my library doesn’t own and my Kindle Unlimited expires in a month and a half. But I’m disappointed for a series that started with such potential to be reduced to this.