Hard boiled all the way through: Where The Dead Lay (Frank Behr series No. 2), by David Levien

indy-downtownFrank Behr, Indianapolis private investigator and protagonist of David Levien’s previous novel “City of the Sun”, investigates the murder of one of his few friends, Aurelio, a jiu jitsu trainer and former mixed martial arts champion. The investigation leads him into contact with a local family of criminals with ambitions to establish themselves, through ferocious violence, in the big leagues.

Behr has many attractive features as a character – courage, loyalty and intelligence to start with, but he is also morose, humourless, angry, emotionally distant and rather inarticulate on any subject other than armed or unarmed combat. These are believable and understandable characteristics for a person with his life history, but they do not make him the most enjoyable protagonist to spend a novel with.

The plot is some consolation, and there is a significant compulsion for the reader to see how all the pieces fit together. However there isn’t that much else: one learns little of the city (Indianapolis) in which the novel is set, or contemplate few moral dilemmas that may be associated with the investigation of violent crime perpetrated by professional criminals. Still its an entertaining, though violent, crime novel, good for a bleak holiday.

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