The Middle Sister was written by Jesse Miles. A review copy was provided by Smith Publicity Inc.
Synopsis: Jack Salvo teaches philosophy one night a week at a community college, but he pays his bills by working as an L.A. private detective. A wealthy woman hires him to find her wayward daughter Lillie, who has been missing for a week. Salvo figures the girl is probably hiding out with her friends. All he has to do is interview the friends, bust their stories, and deduce the missing brat’s location. Salvo soon learns that her “friends” are somewhat parasitical. When he finds Lillie, she is hosting different kinds of parasites – the little ones that help rid the world of rotting corpses. Salvo is then pulled into a maze of murder, arson, and blackmail. During his high-speed run down L.A.’s fast lane, he spars with grifters and gangsters, dodges the cops, and digs up a dark, deadly family secret.
When I mention audio noir, most people probably have a very specific voice come to mind. That classic radio voice that lets you know there are crimes to be solved, and private eyes to solve them! In The Middle Sister Private Investigator Jack Salvo is one such crime solver. His manner and way of speaking place him squarely in that world of gumshoes and complex conspiracy.
This book features a mother and her three daughters. They employ Salvo to find the middle sister, Lillie. Seeing Salvo interact with this family of powerful women was interesting, though there were times when I felt his no non-sense attitude came off as disrespectful to the people who employed him. The way he addressed the eldest sister Zara, in particular, caught me off guard. Other readers may appreciate Salvo’s snark more than I did though!
My favorite element of this story is definitely the narrative voice. I can’t say enough how distinctive and clear the classic radio crime drama vibes are. Anyone who grew up listening to those radio shows will love the episodic nature of the quick chapters. Salvo moves from point to point at a rapid pace. Readers with a love of murder mystery with some mob vibes will surely find something to enjoy in this story, provided they can handle Salvo himself.
The Middle Sister is not the first of Jack Salvo’s tales, but it reads quite well as a standalone novel. I haven’t read the previous books, and I still feel I was able to gain a great understanding of the world and the characters. I would have liked some more time with the supporting characters though. There is quite a large cast, and I occasionally felt like characters were only in the story for a chapter or two before disappearing, or dying.
If you’re a die-hard fan of crime dramas with a penchant for snarky leading men, you have nothing to lose by giving The Middle Sister a read!