BERNARD SCHOPEN – The Big Silence. Jack Ross #1. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1989; paperback, January 1990.

   The first chapter of this, the first recorded adventure of private eye Jack Ross, is a good one. Described is Ross’s meeting with his client, a prostitute named Glory, in a bar at the Reno Hilton. She wants him to find her grandfather, a man who, accused of murder, vanished into the desert 40 years ago.

   A fine start, as I say, but for me, the story ran out of steam no more than 80 pages in. The case simply became too complicated, with too many entanglements and too many outsiders with inside interests. Or could it be that I confuse too easily?

   The desert plays a large part in the resulting drama, perhaps one greater than any of the living characters. What Schopen succeeds in doing, more than anything else, is to describe the solitary beauty of the desert in such a way that it’s brought to life more than any of the people who live in and around it.

   There are not many PI’s who work in the Nevada area, which is a surprise, when you think of it, but while this first case for Jack Ross does have promise, right now I’m more inclined to call it potential not yet realized.

–Reprinted and somewhat expanded upon from Mystery*File #19, January 1990.

       The Jack Ross series —

The Big Silence (1989)
The Desert Look (1990)
The Iris Deception (1996)