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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Sterling Inheritance


**** The Sterling Inheritance by Michael Siverling. Mystery.









I bought this on one of my recent trips to Amazon's bargain bin in search of new-to-me authors.

Financier Anthony Sterling is missing, and his wife hires the Midnight Detective Agency to find him. Not a problem for detective Jason Wilder--he finds Anthony all right, but Anthony pulls a gun; Jason disarms him; and then the cops show up, handcuff Jason, and inform him that Anthony is wanted for murder.

Not long after, Anthony himself is killed, and things get even more complicated, as the Sterlings fight over a dilapidated movie theater Anthony's sister Janice is renovating. Jason finds himself attracted to Janice, and in some tight spots--both of which get him in trouble with his boss: his mother, Victoria.

It took me most of the book to believe Jason as the 20-something he's supposed to be. I'm not sure if it's ageism, if I'm just used to fictional P.I.s being older, or if it's the writing that makes him sound older. I suspect it's the second reason--I won't admit to the first, and it was always some thought or speech of Jason's that reminded me that he was younger than I kept picturing him.

The Sterling Inheritance is reminiscent of Ellery Queen (PW says Raymond Chandler, but I haven't read Chandler), or maybe even Rex Stout--with the young detective working for an older one, and the dryly humorous dialogue. It's definitely in the hard-boiled P.I. style. Victoria and Jason's relationship is a lot of fun--matter-of-fact, but you can feel the underlying affection.

The only problem for me was that, as with Jason's age, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the book--not plot-wise, but tone and atmosphere. I'm not sure why I kept expecting Spenser then being surprised when I got Ellery Queen instead.
I'm hoping the second book in this series, which is out later this month in paperback, will work better for me, now that I know what to expect. It's on my to-buy list, and I'm looking forward to it.

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