By Robert L. Iles

Print 1-929613-57-1
E-book 1-929613-58-x
RocketEdition 1-929613-59-8

Review by Brian Lawrence

THE BURNING WOMAN is a collection of fourteen short stories featuring "Manhattan's most famous private eye," Peter B. Bruck. Now, I'm not sure about the "most famous" part, but Bruck is certainly one of the most entertaining private eyes I've read. In this collection, Mr. Iles takes us back to the heyday of the PI. Set in Manhattan just after WWII, THE BURNING WOMAN is brim full of gangsters, gorgeous dames, and one wry private eye.

The pace is fast, the prose smooth and witty, but this does not get in the way of the clever mysteries presented in each story. The stalwart devices are present: the smart-mouthed secretary, the frequented bar fully equipped with a friendly bartender/counselor, the femme fatales, the love/hate relationship with the cops. Classic PI stuff, yet never overblown.

One thing missing that seems to prevail in modern private eye stories is the excessive violence. Bruck solves his cases with his brains and persistence not brawn and bravado. It is obvious that Mr. Iles holds a certain reverence for the classic private eye novel, and he's done a good job resurrecting one in THE BURNING WOMAN. I highly recommend this book.

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