Last week I had the pleasure of having Harvey Burgess, author of Kiss Her Goodbye - A Houston Cash Novel on for an interview. I love getting the chance to peek behind the curtain and see the mastermind behind a book, and this week I have the privilege of reviewing his debut novel.
Houston Cash is an ex-cop turned private investigator who doesn't expect his life to be extraordinary, and that's just how he likes it. But that's rarely how it seems to work out for him. His cases tend to take him places where he has to employ his skills, his sense of humor, and his sense of right and wrong to maximum effect to solve the problems of the interesting people who walk through his door. Though his network of friends and contacts help him navigate the labyrinths he encounters, it almost always boils down to Houston's own abilities to see a case through to the end.
When Houston makes the acquaintance of a bank executive's wife, he finds himself thrust in a world of money, sex, murder, and double-crosses; it's just another day for a detective (or so it seems). But this woman is about to lead him on a path of twists and turns with an unexpected finale, and not everyone survives. Can Houston's instincts help him stay out of too much of the trouble she represents?
Houston Cash is living a rather cliché life, and he likes it like that; crappy dingy office, lives alone with his cat, retired cop turned PI with a flare for sarcasm. That is until a beautiful bankers wife enters his office seeking his help, and throws Houston into more twists, turns, and head thrashings then he’d care to deal with. One clue unfolding after another only adds to the confusion about who this woman is and what she was really up to. Is she a victim, or the ring master? And will Cash see it through to the end to find out?
I’ll admit, when I first started reading this I was worried. The book begins in a very familiar way, PI in a shabby office – a loner of sorts, not much work and not much to go home to besides his cat. And in walks this beautiful young woman, a trophy wife to a multi-millionaire banker. She’s mysterious, hiding something, and needs his help. Now the main character, Houston Cash, played up his somewhat clichéd life, but as I was reading I thought “Oh he didn’t just go there, did he?” afraid this would be another detective novel like the thousands before it.
But Burgess has fine tuned his craft, and echoes the talent of the masters like John Sanford, Robert B. Parker, and Ed McBain. Just as apprehension started to churn, Burgess quickly pulled me into the story with the first of many twists. You’re not very deep into the book before you feel like you’re beside Houston on this journey, wondering what the hell happened and how to make sense of all these pieces that don’t seem to fit together.
I’ve read mysteries/detective novels for probably over twenty years, its one of my favorite genres. And although I love it, most authors fall flat in one area; having characters that come to life on the page. Burgess however, has triumphed this, and gives a cast of characters with their own voices, standing alone on the page and alive in your mind. Burgess succeeds on that level so many have come just shy of achieving.
And having read this genre for so many years, I’ve acquired the ability to see plot twists and endings from miles away. Seldom am I surprised by something, and although I still enjoy these books, endings leave me with an “I told you so” feeling more often than anything else. This book though, tripped me up a few times. When I thought for sure I had something figured out, Burgess unfolds a new element and its back to the drawing board once again. I have to applaud him for that, actually shocking me with twists, something I have not had happen in probably years.
Burgess wrapped things up nicely in the ending, but left you with enough suspense still lingering in the air to want to read the next book in the series, which I will be buying when it comes out. And I would be happy to read this book again. I’d even purchase it to add it to my collection. And keep in mind, it’s a very short list of books I re-read. All-in-all Burgess offered nice twists, intriguing and believable characters to a tired, overdone genre. Taking a fresh approach, he’s breathed life back into the world of mysteries and given fans something to sink their teeth into.
To learn more about Harvey Burgess and his writing you can visit his blog or website, or like his Facebook Fan page. Kiss Her Goodbye is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iUniverse.