In Lieu of Surrender by Bill Russell

In Lieu of Surrender by Bill Russell
Toby Grant Detective Book 1
Publisher: Class Act Books
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (288 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Roy Gallant, a pillar of 1949, Santa Marcia society has a major problem. Trouble is, he doesn’t know it yet. Up until now, he has been able to dabble in his hobbies and shady dealings unfettered by anything as prosaic as the law. However, something happened that is going to change all that, something incidental, a nuisance really and not at all his fault. Oh, sure, it was he who ordered the woman’s kidnapping but that was only to bring a new chief of police into line. When he got the man’s cooperation, he would order the wife’s release and that should be an end to it. Too bad she turns up dead. Someone killed her and that invited the attentions of a private investigator from Los Angeles, named Toby Grant. It seems, the police chief is his best friend and an old war buddy. Maybe things might have worked out but then Roy made a real bo bo, he ordered the police chief’s ‘suicide’ after framing him for his wife’s murder. Talk about pulling the tiger’s tail. From that moment on, Toby Grant was hot on his trail. Roy Gallant was about unearth his worst nightmare and rue the discovery.

Toby Grant, a private investigator, receives an early morning phone call from his best friend, Justin Franks, asking for help. Justin’s wife has just been murdered and Justin, the Chief of Police in Santa Marcia, a small city on the California coast, is certain that he will be arrested for her murder. Something rotten is definitely going on in Santa Marcia. Toby immediately heads out to help his friend, and he quickly learns that the small city is being ruined by Roy Gallánt, a supposed pillar of 1949 Santa Marcia society. Gallánt has most of the community under his thumb, including the police, so Toby has his work cut out for him.

This is a fast-paced historical crime novel with an engaging detective. There is no mystery about who the villain is, but there is a great deal of suspense involved in bringing the villain to justice. Toby has to fight crooked cops and brutal body guards. His only ally is Ruth Callahan, who runs the local newspaper. I really liked Ruth, a very savvy reporter who is eager to help Toby. Between them, they uncover a lot of clues, but they lack evidence which will nail any but the small fry.

The setting for the story feels authentic, and it has obviously been well-researched. I really felt as if I were back in the immediate post-WWII era, and the information about the Americans of Japanese descent who were interred during the war is handled well.

As the case progresses, there is a lot of re-hashing of the information that has been gathered. This does allow Toby and Ruth to process the information and come up with more ideas about how to proceed, but I could have done with a bit less of the going over of information.

The action never lets up. Toby has to work hard to stay ahead of the bad guys, switching cars, moving several times, and so forth. Several times is looks as if there is no way out for Toby so I was kept on the edge of my seat. I found it hard to put the book down, so I ended up reading it in one sitting.

Readers of historical crime fiction are sure to enjoy helping Toby match wits with the villains and I certainly plan to read more in this series.

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