MYSTERY

City of Dark Corners

Poisoned Pen. May 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781464213250. pap. $15.99. M
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Gene Hammons, a veteran of the Great War and former Phoenix homicide detective, now makes a living looking for missing people. People disappear all the time in the book’s 1933 Arizona; the Great Depression has hit Phoenix hard. When a woman’s body is found near the railroad tracks, cut into four pieces. Gene’s brother Don, a police detective, asks him to consult on the case. Although the railroad bull says she fell from a train, Gene thinks the body was arranged. Don finds his brother’s business card in the dead woman’s purse and returns it to him; meanwhile, Gene won’t drop the case, although the Chamber of Commerce calls it an accidental death. He and his police photographer girlfriend, Victoria Vasquez, are followed, and cover-up murders occur. Gene knows that he’s being set up—or that somebody wants to kill anyone who might supply a clue to the dead woman’s activities. It’s a complex case, enmeshing some of the most prominent real-life Phoenix figures, including a young Barry Goldwater.
VERDICT This gritty stand-alone deals with Phoenix’s rough-and-tumble past and its questionable police force in the 1930s. Talton excels at creating the ambiance of historic Phoenix. Suggest for fans of realistic historical mysteries or Phoenix Noir.
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