Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2004
SAYONARAVILLE is the 2nd book in the Jake Rossiter and Miss Jenkins series following on from the tough hardboiled RAT CITY. Curt Colbert has created a private detective series that has the look and feel of a pulp detective novel written in the 1940s. Jake Rossiter is a hard-bitten, hard drinking private detective working in Seattle. The year is 1948, Rossiter has returned home from the war to find his town overrun by corruption and feels that it's his duty to see that the rats feeding off the honest joes get the punishment they deserve.
The story opens with the rather grisly discovery of the decapitated body of Henry Jamison by Miss Jenkins. Jamison is Rossiter's insurance agent and his office adjoins Jake's. Lying on the floor near the body is a samurai sword, obviously the murder weapon.
Miss Jenkins has progressed from secretary (girl Friday) to private detective and is about to take her first case. Coincidently (or perhaps not) her first client is a Japanese man named Harry Hashimoto. The fact that he is Japanese does not sit well with Rossiter at all. Remember, this is set in 1948 and Rossiter has just returned from the Pacific where he was fighting the Japanese. He insists that Miss Jenkins drop the case, which she refuses.
When an attempt is made on Miss Jenkins' life, putting her in hospital, Rossiter takes over the case for her. The case seems straightforward enough. Mr Hashimoto wants tot get his business back after it was burned down and the insurance company refused to pay the claim. Huh? Hang on! Insurance company, Japanese...wasn't there some sort of link mentioned earlier? Hmmm.... Would anyone care to guess who the insurance agent might have been? These were the kinds of questions that were going through my head while reading the book, so I thought, rather than accidentally include a spoiler or two, I'd simply pose them for you too.
There is a seemingly unrelated, but persistent subplot about the return to Seattle of Eddie Valhalla, a hit man who grew up in the same orphanage as Rossiter. Valhalla is Rossiter's sworn enemy nowadays and, upon hearing of his arrival in town, Rossiter sets out to settle a few old scores. The strange thing is, Rossiter seems to cross paths with Valhalla an unusually high number of times while working on the Hashimoto case. It becomes clear that somehow the presence of the hit man is going to have something to do with the case.
Finally throw into the picture the crooked police force led by Captain Harvey Blevens, a man who goes out of his way to make life difficult for Rossiter. Part of the protection racket being run by the local police force includes Hashimoto's old shop. When Rossiter asks the new owners a few questions, they call their police "protectors". The fact that Blevens himself answered the call in double quick time tells Jake that he was onto something pretty big.
Although Jake takes the top billing, it's the increasingly surprising Miss Jenkins who steals the show, revealing an increasingly impressive array of talents. She began the series in RAT CITY as Rossiter's young, naïve and innocent secretary. When surprised or embarrassed she would utter a "my goodness" and then blush. She has since graduated to become a private detective in her own right, she carries a gun and has proven that her detecting abilities rivals Jake's. Clearly, Colbert has plans for her in future books.
The story is not what you would call a fast-paced thriller. Rather it is a methodical story where the clues are tracked down, the suspects are tailed and everything is pieced together as each new piece is discovered. All very neat and tidy. In between come some momentary bouts of violence mixed with humorous exchanges to keep things moving along. It's not breathless action but I found it enjoyable all the same.
Curt Colbert has written a strong sequel to RAT CITY providing an intriguing mystery. His ability to capture the period in which it is written is unquestioned, with the dialogue and the plot giving the story the feel of an authentic 1940s detective novel. I said this when reviewing RAT CITY and it still applies for SAYONARAVILLE, people who love the hardboiled private detective stories written by authors such as Mickey Spillane will enjoy this book.
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