Sunday, February 25, 2018

Brief Mention: Las Vegas Noir from David Kranes, ABRACADABRA

There's a new-ish trend among university presses that's fascinating to observe: an urge to publish fiction, including thrillers and mysteries, set in the press's home state. When the University of Minnesota Press began to publish the Scandinavian/Minnesotan fiction of Vidar Sundstøl, I became an instant fan. And now the University of Nevada Press presents David Kranes with his outrageous and delightful detective tale, ABRACADABRA.

Kranes is an established author of seven other novels and many short stories, and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he is a professor emeritus at University of Utah. He clearly knows Las Vegas well -- but more importantly, he's willing to risk his dignity by creating a detective with a head injury that takes him well beyond "the facts of the case" -- and crime-solving assistants like the Bloody Marys (a network of cocktail waitresses) and his own team of celebrity impersonators (Shaquille O'Neal, anyone?). As a detective, Elko Wells is far outside the usual (and he used to be a pro football player, another wild aspect).

Then again, the case Elko tackles in ABRACADABRA is also outside the box -- literally. Lena Goodson wants him to find her husband Mark, who, trapped in a very uncomfortable marriage, has just escaped her, by leaving backstage during a magician's act that should have resulted in his simple reappearance in the traditional black stage box.

Plenty of fun and entertainment here, along with magic tricks and classic cons, as well as a sense of the mysteries of love and life and of course impersonation, whether intentional or not, and its, shall we say, spiritual aspects.

Grab this one for a very unusual blend of offbeat detection, caper, crime, and discovery.

PS:  Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.

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