The new all-purpose bogie man of the modern thriller is the religious fundamentalist, either from the West or the Middle East. But in Hansen’s typically first-rate new book, it’s the death of a religious zealot who kickstarts the plot. When Gerald Dawson, splenetic family man and moral crusader is murdered, suspicion falls on a Hollywood porn shop owner. But the indefatigable Dave Brandstetter is worried by a host of loose ends: who was the runaway teenager known to have been seen with the murdered man? And did Dawson
have some secret bond with the porn filmmaker? Many have laid claim to the Hammett/Chandler legacy, and Brandstetter is too unorthodox a gumshoe to fit the mould. But as a modern-day incarnation of the spirit of the classic age, he very much fits the bill, and Hansen’s gallery of characters is every bit as striking as his predecessors. With assurance and style, Hansen continues to refine the private eye genre for the end of the millennium.

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