Book Reviews: A Nasty Piece of Work by Robert Littell and City of Darkness and Light by Rhys Bowen

A Nasty Piece of WorkA Nasty Piece of Work
Robert Littell
St. Martin’s Griffin, October 2014
ISBN 978-1-250-05463-0
Trade Paperback

Lemuel Gunn, now a private detective in New Mexico, once was a CIA agent in Afghanistan before being unceremoniously sent home and cashiered out of the service, and, before that, a policeman in New Jersey.  While he holds a PI license, he basically whiles his time away in a gigantic trailer built for Douglas Fairbanks Jr. while he was making a movie.

That is, until one day he is approached by Ornella Neppi, a beautiful but tarnished bail bondswoman who put up $125,000 to spring one Emilio Gava after he was arrested on a cocaine charge.  Her problem (and she has lots of them) is that Gava has skipped town and she is in danger of losing the funds if he doesn’t show up in court.  She asks Gunn to find Gava, and he undertakes the task.  And what an adventure it becomes.

The author, known for his spy thrillers, has proved he can write a detective novel with the best of them, with excellent characters, unexpected plot turns, and interesting human emotions.  The plot keeps moving forward at a steady pace, and even the description of a My Lai-type massacre in the present-day Asian action is startling.


Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2014.


City of Darkness and LightCity of Darkness and Light
A Molly Murphy Mystery #13
Rhys Bowen
Minotaur Books, January 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-05160-8
Trade Paperback

This mystery series, featuring Molly Murphy (now Mrs. Molly Sullivan and mother of a bouncing boy) usually takes place in Little Old New York at the turn of the last century.  But, because Capt. Sullivan has arrested the head of the mafia on the lower East Side and their home is bombed and burned to the ground in retribution, he insists that Molly and little Liam leave the city and go far away for their safety.

Molly’s friends, Gus and Sid, are in Paris, so it is decided that Molly and the baby should go there.  But when she finally arrives in the City of Light after a rough voyage, Gus and Sid are nowhere to be found.  So Molly has to trek all over the city trying to find them.  And in doing so, she becomes involved in another murder mystery.  So much for her promise to her husband to give up being a detective.

Molly is a delightful character, and in this episode, she exhibits a degree of sophistication that shows her character and development, far removed from the Irish immigrant who first landed on the shores of the U.S.  The plot pieces together an intricate mystery amid a graphic portrayal of Paris and its art scene, featuring such luminaries as Picasso and Degas.


Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2015.