BENJAMIN SCHUTZ – A Fistful of Empty. Leo Haggerty #5. Viking, hardcover, 1991. No paperback edition.

   I missed this when it came out, and I think it must have gone out of print in two weeks. I’ve been hunting a copy for over a year, and finally found one.

   Leo Haggerty chooses to honor an obligation to help his bounty-hunter buddy, Arnie Kendall, bring in a particularly repellent skinhead felon, instead of meeting his love as she asks him to do, even though she says it’s important. When he finally gets home, he finds her raped and brutally beaten, and the home and office trashed. He calls Arnie for help, only to find that he has been murdered.

   His quest to find out who, and why, and to exact revenge, make up the story. I’s also about Haggerty learning who he is, and who he can and cannot be. Hard lessons, tough exam.

   This is heavy, grim stuff. The Haggerty books have been among the more violent of the current PI crop, and this is no exception. Schutz is a good writer, and tells a fast-moving and gripping story. If you like ’em dark and mean, you could do much worse than this. If you don’t, pass.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #6, March 1993

      The Leo Haggerty series —

Embrace the Wolf (1985)

All the Old Bargains (1985)
A Tax in Blood (1987)
The Things We Do For Love (1989)

A Fistful of Empty (1991)
Mexico Is Forever (1994)
Mary, Mary, Shut the Door (2005). (Collection: includes three Haggerty stories, a “Sean and Matt Ellis” story, plus a Philip Marlowe pastiche, “The Black-Eyed Blonde.”)