The Bottom Line: A first-rate crime novel told in the classic noir tradition of Raymond Chandler, Jonathan Cain and Dennis Lehane. Highly recommended.
Chicago private eye Cleve Hawkins’ latest client is Bethany Hubbard, a socialite who suspects her husband is cheating. But when her chemist spouse goes missing, Hawkins suspects a mob connection. Will Hubbard’s vow to keep his company’s stealth project a secret cost him his life? And what, if anything, does his wife know really about it?
If it wasn’t for the mobile phones and smatterings of similarly contemporary tech, Triple Crossed could easily take place in the 1930s. Author R.C. Hartson has created a classic noir world complete with actual newspapers, checkbooks and cigarette-smoking men who answer to nicknames like “Toad” and “Deck.” Add in actual mob connections, and now we’re cooking with gas. Told in chapters that alternate seamlessly between the 3rd person and Hawkins’ point of view, Hartson’s gift for commingling an old school PI like Hawkins within a contemporary plotline is superb. Throughout the book, Hawkins’ dialogue is nothing short of delicious (“Why wave meat in front of a caged beast if you can feed him?”). If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself bookmarking his best lines for your own use.
Weighing in at just 250 pages, Triple Crossed is a brisk page-turner. And does the title risk giving the ending away? Surprisingly, no – Hartson kept me guessing until the end. For fans of classic crime fiction looking for a new tale to lose themselves in, this is comfort food of the highest order.