It isn’t often I like a book without considering it well written. But that’s the case with Jason Richards’ novel Chasing Shadows, first in his Drew Patrick private eye series.
Drew Patrick works in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He gets hired by a single mother named Bonnie Ross, who is concerned about her teenaged daughter Tina’s relationship with a young man named Aaron. Aaron is a college student and a promising football player, but Bonnie doesn’t trust him, and Tina has changed and grown distant since they started dating.
There’s nothing criminal about that, but Drew agrees to check the boy out. Turns out Bonnie’s concerns are justified. Aaron has been working as a collector for a loan shark, and is being pressured to commit murder. But Drew, assisted by his girlfriend Jessica (also a PI), a couple friendly sheriff’s detectives, and his faithful beagle mix, Dash, will do his best to get between the kids and disaster.
Okay, about this book. It’s not very well written. There are proofreading and spelling problems. The dialogue is often turgid – a lot more contractions could have been employed, for one thing. The author’s attempts at wit are hit and miss – more often than not he presses his jokes where a lighter touch would have been more effective.
But I appreciated what he seems to be doing here. He seems to be trying to recreate the magic of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books – Spenser worked not far away in Boston. The Spenser books were refreshing in their time. Unlike past hard-boiled shamuses, Spenser was optimistic in attitude and took care of his health. He also had healthy relationships with women, and eventually connected with a regular girlfriend. I really liked those books until Parker allowed Spenser to become totally whipped.
Similarly, Drew Patrick is a positive guy with a healthy attitude. He is devoted to his girlfriend, cheerfully rejecting all passes from other women. He even has a dog – something often useful in breaking the ice with people, and (for most of us) a sign of good character. Also, perhaps, a nod to the Thin Man.
But he isn’t entirely believable. He doesn’t seem to care much about paying the bills, and pursues “justice” even when not being paid. And the regular cops seem happy to have him meddle in their investigations (something I find hard to believe).
So I can’t give Chasing Shadows my highest recommendation. But I won’t deny I kind of enjoyed the book. You might too. Only mild cautions for adult content.