Starting a new series is always an exciting prospect for any reader. New characters to meet, a new setting to explore, and with crime fiction, a new mystery to get your brain working!
Too Soon Dead by Michael Kurland is the first Alexander Brass Mystery set in 1930s New York starring Alexander Brass as a celebrity newsman who becomes enveloped in a scandalous mystery when he is given a set of compromising photographs featuring some of the city’s most elite citizens.
Working with the police, but still very much his own person, Brass and his team begin their own investigation into the photographs, and things become all the more risky when one of their own is brutally murdered, followed by the original tipster himself.
With powerful people involved and a sadistic killer at work, Brass and his colleagues must use all their wits and knowledge to solve the puzzle before danger comes knocking at their own door.
Brass is assisted by his trusty assistant Morgan DeWitt and the reader sees the story from his perspective. There is also ice-queen receptionist Gloria on the case, as well as new friends and colleagues that get roped into the story.
Brass and DeWitt have a kind of Holmes/Watson style relationship; although I found Brass to be more of a cool, character and much more likeable than the often smug, patronising portrayals of Sherlock Holmes. Although clever, honest and charismatic, DeWitt is not as worldly as he would like, and seeing the story through his eyes makes the reader feel closer to the story and experiencing the events with DeWitt rather than being a complete outsider removed from the action makes for a better telling.
The 1930s setting in New York with a cast of the rich and famous adds glamour and substance to the story, whilst the crime adds the grit and interest; which for me was a winning combination. There is sex and violence, neither overdone which works well in the overall storyline and fits the time and setting. With blackmailing Nazis, sultry nymphomaniacs and powerful political players, the plot that is uncovered goes far beyond a few naughty photos and the crime/history combo was again, another winner for me.
Well-paced and consistently intriguing, Too Soon Dead is an easy to read crime thriller/mystery that fans of this genre will devour and be eager for more. I was interested in all the leading characters and I’m looking forward to seeing where their next mystery takes them.