Wed 17 Aug 2016
ROB KANTNER – The Quick and the Dead. Ben Perkins #7. Harper, paperback original, 1992.
Thanks to Leonard, Estleman, Jackson, and Kantner, Detroit has become one of the better-known cities on the hardboiled map. The city, its makeup and its history, are an important part of each author’s approach to his story, though the focus of each of course varies. Kantner’s for the seventh Ben Perkins is the world of Detroit Catholicism.
Perkins, the sometime private eye, full time maintenance head of a large apartment complex, is currently enjoying the benefits of an interesting life. His boss would like to fire him, a mafia don wants some incriminating material Perkins has, and an ex-lover is about to have their child.
Now a local judge who is in a position to both help and harm him wants him to take on a job for St. Angela’s parish — for no pay. The ex-priest of the church is being considered for canonization during an upcoming visit by the Pope. The problem is that when his body was dug up to be examined, it wasn’t there; the coffin was filled with bricks. Perkins’ job: find it, and find out why it is missing.
I’ve generally enjoyed Kantner’s novels. Perkins, and ex-factory worker and ex-union enforcer, is a well-realized bluecollar type of PI, and Kantner tells a good story in very good prose. The books don’t make me want to start babbling about “transcending the genre,” but then again they rarely bring on one of my tirades about foolish people and foolish plots. This one is no exception. It won’t make you forget Chandler, but it’s a solid example of the hardboiled type.
The Ben Perkins series —
1. The Back-Door Man (1986)
2. The Harder They Hit (1987)
3. Dirty Work (1988)
4. Hell’s Only Half Full (1989)
5. Made in Detroit (1990)
6. The Thousand Yard Stare (1991)
7. The Quick and the Dead (1992)
8. The Red, White and Blues (1993)
9. Concrete Hero (1994)
10. Trouble is What I Do (story collection; 2005)
11. Final Fling (2007) ADDED LATER (see comments)