ROSS THOMAS – Ah, Treachery! Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1994; paperback, November 1995.

   Ross Thomas is one of my desert island authors, and I think one of the finest crime writers of this century, I always look forward to a new book from him, even though I think the quality of his putput has fallen markedly in the last few years.

   Edd “Twodees” Partain was an Army Major once, but now he’s a clerk selling guns in Montana. His past catches up with him in the person of a Colonel who appears to tell him that a story is about to break that will dredge up things best forgotten, and he’s fired from his job.

   He gets in touch with an old friend in Washington DC, and through him is hired by a big0time fundraiser to find some stolen money. Then his past and present begin to circle each other warily, rattling a whole closetful of skeletons in the process.

   I don’t think that Ross Thomas can write a book I won’t like; at least he hasn’t yet. Running on autopilot he is still a better and more interesting writer than 90% of those plying the trade today. Unfortunately for those of us who cherish his classics — The Seersucker Whipsaw, The Fools in Town Are on Our Side, Chinaman’s Chance, etc. — autopilot seems all too close to the mark.

   There is still the smooth, patented convoluted plot, and the usual group of slightly off-center. usually amoral characters, but… The books are slimmer than they used to be, and what’s missing is the depth of characterization that was once the strongest part of his novels. The characters here are enjoyable, but I doubt that you’ll find them memorable, and in Thomas’s prime they always were.

   I enjoyed it, but I mourn for the Thomas of old. “Snif!”

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #16, November 1994.