The Midnight Promise crashes straight into Temple, Corris and Chandler territory—just like the blurb promises. It involves a Melbourne PI, interlinked stories (if this worries you, just consider them TV episodes) and a trail of intriguing cases (based on fact) that accompany our hero’s best (or not) endeavours. Downfalls of lonely alcoholic PIs and cops can become a little tedious to the frequent crime reader, but there is enough warmth, self-awareness and chutzpah to keep this book on the right side of the genre. With merrily dark observations, the gumshoe metaphors are smokin’ and when things get occasionally purple (chimneys as infections anyone?), a whip-smart quip brings the focus back. In fact it’s the purity, lightness and knowing humour of these cracks that lifts these stories from good to ‘oh man, get me this guy’s next book now!’ Readers may find the latter third wavers a little in purpose and sharpness, but keep your guard up—there’s a body blow coming, and a final chapter that ends up exploding in your hands. You can recommend The Midnight Promise by the back cover—Text has it nailed.
Catherine Schulz is an indie bookseller, headquartered at Fullers Bookshop, Hobart. This review first appeared in the June/July issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.