The Bottom Line: A truly original detective thriller that delivers a relentless cadence of mind-blowing revelations. Highly recommended.
Andrew Diamond’s second Claire Chastain mystery delivers an explosive first chapter that all but guarantees to hook all who read it. In nearly all detective fiction, first meetings between private investigators and clients are notoriously quiet affairs in which the detective for hire observes passively as the client spews a series of facts and half-truths. But as we saw in Diamond’s The Friday Cage, Chastain is hardly a typical PI.
So when prospective client Roscoe Lehmann hires her to investigate a dock worker who may be stealing appliances, Claire is immediately suspicious. To start, why would a titan of industry hire a PI who is still unlicensed? Lehmann claims one of Claire’s professors recommended her. Lehmann is also careful not to create any digital evidence that the investigation is even taking place. The matter must be discussed in person, he must pay in cash, and he insists that Claire take only handwritten notes.
It’s no wonder that Claire tells him to hire someone else, directly challenges Lehmann’s misleading claims and doesn’t shrink when he attempts to manhandle her. Then she demands an outrageous $2,000 per day fee. Thankfully for readers, that’s a sum that Lehmann can’t afford to turn down. This breathless first meeting creates a palpable sense of danger for all parties: detective, client and accused.
The revelations don’t stop there. As Claire soon learns, almost nothing about the case is what it appears to be. The plot is sheer joy for readers who treasure riding along with PIs and trying to spot holes in identity, motive and alibis in character stories.
Diamond’s The Friday Cage is the first series book in which we see how useful Claire’s financial auditing skills can be to detective work. In contrast, The Reisman Case reads more like a true PI origin story. Claire is a very special PI with some very human and endearing flaws. She can’t afford to be choosy, and yet she is extremely particular. She’s clever and analytical, and yet she is quick-tempered, even volatile. Diamond carves out telling windows into the impact of her childhood on the present (“If Lehmann had been my father, I might have dreamed of being an orphan, just to relieve myself of the burden of being related to an avoidant, indecisive man who couldn’t connect emotionally”).
In sum, Claire is clearly on a compelling personal and professional journey, and Diamond has equipped her with a case that deserves a spot at the top of your queue.