JOSEPH FINDER – Guilty Minds. Nick Heller #3. Dutton, hardcover, 2016; paperback, 2017.

   Nick Heller is, according to the back cover of the softcover edition of this book, “a private spy — an intelligence operative based in Boston who prides himself on uncovering the truth.” His assignment in this case: to find out who’s responsible for a scurrilous story about a Supreme Court justice that’s about to appear in one of those scandal sheet websites that are so widely read around the world today, but most particularly in the DC area.

   The justice is accused of having an ongoing liaison with a call girl in a downtown DC hotel, an accusation that Heller quickly proves to be false. When the call girl is found dead, obviously a suicide, Heller decides to follow up on his own — he doesn’t believe the official verdict — and to find out who’s really behind this ever evolving conspiracy, and why.

   This is PI work in the modern age, no doubt about it. Heller has a staff fully conversant with all kinds of illicit computer spying and other high tech surveillance capability, as well as contacts of all kinds whenever his own staff needs assistance. It does make things a whole easier in one sense, compared with the resources a Philip Marlowe had, or didn’t have — but on the other hand, the villains of the take have equal abilities, and they’re not hesitant about using them.

   I don’t usually tackle books as long as this one — almost 450 pages of small print — but Finder has a very smooth writing technique that allows the reader to gulp in whole paragraphs at a time. Truthfully, though, it’s more of a thriller novel than it is a PI novel, with a lot of firepower bringing the story to a grand slam conclusion in the final few chapters.

   There’s nothing in this one that I’m sure I haven’t read before, but even if so, I didn’t mind at all reading it again.

      The Nick Heller series —

1. Vanished (2009)
2. Buried Secrets (2011)
2.5. Plan B (novells, 2011)
3. Guilty Minds (2016)

   Also of note: “Good and Valuable Consideration: Jack Reacher vs. Nick Heller,” a short story by Lee Child & Joseph Finder included in the ITW (International Thriller Writers) anthology FaceOff (2015).