Monday, July 23, 2012

Finished: "Father's Day" by Keith Gilman

Finished: Father's Day by Keith Gilman, 2009, 9780312383657.

I was looking at the Mystery shelves and saw this.  I remember getting the book and I started reading the first few pages.  I was pulled in so I checked it out.  Good but not great.  Spoilers await.

Lou Klein was a cop for 14 years until he was forced to resign for beating people up.  Lou got a job with the DA and worked for six years until his brutality got him canned from that job as well.  Now Lou gets by on a scant pension and basic PI work like serving papers and occasional repossessions.  "Repossessions" is difficult for me to spell.

Lou's cop father was murdered on the job when Lou was 14.  Lou's mother was murdered in her kitchen a year ago.  Lou has moved into his mom's home in a deteriorating neighborhood.  "Deteriorating" is also difficult for me to spell.  Lou is divorced.  Lou smokes a lot.  Lou drinks a lot.  Lou's body clock is still screwy after years of third shift cop work.

Lou is asked by the widow of a dead cop pal to search for her missing 19-year-old daughter, Sarah.  Widow has since remarried a local businessman and crook, Trafficante.  Lou starts looking in slummy areas, biker bars, and massage parlors for Sarah.  Lou's late teen daughter shows up at his house to live with him.

Things happen.  Lou remembers his past.  Lou reaches out to a former colleague and still current policeman. Bodies start turning up among biker and scumbag dude connected to Trafficante.  Lou smokes cigarettes.  Lou discovers the Widow's shady background and that she has two troubled kids.  Lou gets a concussion.

Lou sees corruption, death, conspiracy, dirty politics, bad weather, more cigarettes, a shootout, and more death.  Lou gets it all figured out.  Gilman sets up a sequel.  Sequel came out this past February.

1.  I've always thought Philadelphia sounded like a hole.  This novel does not paint a pretty picture of the town.  Set during the grime of late winter.  Sunny and cold days are described but I imagined most scenes set at night after an early and awful 4 PM winter sunset.  Endemic crime and corruption and urban decay.
2.  One of those PI novels that discusses the past inaction and poor behavior of the protagonist.  The PI's need for redemption is there but the PI does not actively seek it; he may not believe himself capable or redemption possible.
3.  A dark view of society and people.  Cop cynicism regularly reinforced.   
4.  Theme of fathers and parenting.  
4.a. Lou was the stepson of a cop who married his mom when Lou was very young.  Lou was, at times, uncomfortable as a stepkid and wondered how his dad felt about him.  His dad loved him.  
4.b. Lou loves his daughter but an angry and failed marriage did not help.  His daughter likes to spend time with him.  
4.c.  Sarah, the Widow's missing daughter, was completely failed by her mother.  She finds out the man everyone thought was her father was murdered.  That her real father is Trafficante the crook.  Sarah finds out her false-father was murdered and did not kill himself and was a stooge for Trafficante.
5.  The past couple books I read have included divorced dads, murders disguised as suicides, dead parents and guilt.

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