MICHAEL Z. LEWIN – Called by a Panther. Albert Samson #8. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1991; paperback, June 1992.

   Albert Samson, it has been noted before, isn’t your typical hard-boiled, punchem inna nose, kickem inna crotch private eye. He’s middle-aged, low-key, laid-back, and not terribly successful; perilously close, actually, to being one of life’s losers. In this, his eighth appearance overall but first in eight years, he is trying to change his style. He is actually going to advertise on television; cable access, granted, but still —

   That’s just one of the threads running through the story. There’s a poet who wants to marry his rich benefactress, but needs Samson’s help in murdering his wife, first. Well, sort of, anyway. But the real problem is that terrorism has come to Indianapolis, yes, Indianapolis. The Scum Front, an environmentalist group, have planted several bombs recently, though taking great pains to not have them go off.

   Now the S. F. have had one of their bombs stolen after they planted it, and want Albert to find it for them. Given that the Indianapolis police are practically frothing at the mouth over the terrorists, he is naturally somewhat reluctant to become involved with the anonymous group. Does he? Well, of course.

   The ending, I think, will surprise you, as well as raise questions as to where the series goes from here. It’s an interesting if not too terribly believable story, and told in Lewin’s usual witty and enjoyable style. Samson’s exploits are a welcome change of pace from the typically gritty, angst-driven private detective story. I recommend them, and Panther, highly.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #2, July 1992.