DAVID M PIERCE – Angels in Heaven. V Daniel #4. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1992; paperback, 1993.

   I have a moderately well-articulated and consistent set of abstract likes and dislikes in crime fiction, and generally speaking, my reading reflects them rather closely. Evey now and then, though, an idiosyncratic writer comes along whose books when analyzed shouldn’t appeal to me; but do. Kinky Friedman and Amanda Cross are two (if you can find stranger bedfellows than those two, I’d like to hear about them), and David M Pierce is another.

   V (for Victor) Daniel is one of the more atypical California PIs. He’s 6′ 7″, wears loud Hawaiian shirts, is getting uncomfortably close to middle-aged, and operates in the San Fernando valley. Though he wouldn’t use it, some unkind souls might apply the word “seedy.” His morals tend to be rather elastic, and the letter of the law is missing from his alphabet. He’s assisted in his various endeavors when needed by Sara, a young punker who writes memos in blank verse; Benny, a friend who is a master of shady dealings; Ellroy, his rich, indolent landlord; and`a few others.

   In previous books there really has been no central plot, but instead a few unrelated cases that Daniel takes care of in various and odd ways. Here, there is one: Daniel’s best boyhood friend is in a Mexican jail, seriously ill, with no hope for release, and V gets a message from him appealing for help. Help he gets, as Daniel & Co. head for Mexico.

   These aren’t quite like anything else, and certainly aren’t for everyone. The plot isn’t the thing with Pierce’s books; the things are witty prose, very engaging characters, and one of the more flip and irreverent attitudes you’re likely to find. I’ve seen this characterized as both the weakest and the best of the series by different people. Personally I’m inclined toward the former, but I still liked it.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #5, January 1993.