MICHAEL ALLEGRETTO – Blood Relative. Jacob Lomax #4. Charles Scribner’s Sons, hardcover, 1992. No paperback edition.

   I had read a couple of the earlier Lomax books and hadn’t been tremendously impressed, but on the other hand liked them well enough to try another. I’m a little more impressed after reading the fourth.

   Jake Lomax is a Denver PI, an ex-cop whose wife was murdered five years ago; this destroyed his career as a policeman, and remains the central fact in his life. He is just back from an extended vacation in Mexico, and wondering what he’s doing with his life. He is hired by a lawyer for a man accused of murdering his wife, and who seems to be considered guilty by everyone even his children, and Lomax.

   Lomax is to find some helpful witnesses, and see if he can track down a possible lover of the murdered woman. As the stones are turned over the worms crawl out, and Lomax prods them to see which way they move. They move, as always, towards secrets and other crimes.

   This is a well-done standard private eye novel; if the concept of genre has any meaning this is probably the kind of book it applies to. Lomax walks the mean streets like he’s supposed to, and does the things a man’s gotta do when and where he’s gotta do ’em.

   Allegretto writes well if not exceptionally, and the plot is tight and more than normally realistic. I wouldn’t put him in the top rank of PI writers yet, but based on Blood Relative, I believe he’s moved up a notch. I look forward to the next one. Recommended.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #3, September 1992.

The Jacob Lomax series —

1. Death on the Rocks (1987)

2. Blood Stone (1988)

3. The Dead of Winter (1989)
4. Blood Relative (1992)
5. Grave Doubt (1995)