JEREMIAH HEALY – Rescue. John Francis Cuddy #10. Pocket, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   Jerry Healy, besides being a hell of a nice guy (I played poker with him at the Seattle Bouchercon), is one of the group of “modern” PI writers I like the most. As with most of that group, however, I haven’t enjoyed his last few books as much as I have the earlier ones.

   It all starts with Cuddy being a good Samaritan, stopping to help a young woman change a flat. She is defiant and obviously scared, as is her companion a 10-year-old buy with a disfiguring birthmark. Finding that Cuddy is a PI, the boy asks him if he would ever find him if he were ever lost, and Cuddy assures him that he would.

   The next day he reads that the woman’s body has been found, but there is no mention of the boy. Cuddy made a promise in Viet Nam once that he was unable to keep, and that he has never been able to forget. He intends to keep this one. It leads him to the other end of the country and to a religious group, and to violence he didn’t anticipate.

   Healy is writing a different kind of PI novel than I remember his first few being, though my memory may be at fault. His tales have trended more and more toward the action-adventure, with Cuddy going mano a mano with the bad guys and not being averse to taking the law into his own hands, a la Spenser.

   Not that Healy’s plots have ever descended to the idiocy that Parker’s did for a while, mind you, but still. I think that Healy is an enormously talented writer, and I haven’t read a book of his I didn’t enjoy. His pacing is excellent, his prose smooth as silk, and his characters well drawn. Cuddy himself is one of today’s more likable and believable of the “growing” PI’s. I don’t like “cowboy” stories as well as I do the more traditional kid, but Healy does what he does very well indeed.


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

The John Francis Cuddy series —

1. Blunt Darts (1984)
2. The Staked Goat (1986)
3. So Like Sleep (1987)
4. Swan Dive (1988)
5. Yesterday’s News (1989)
6. Right To Die (1991)
7. Shallow Graves (1992)
8. Foursome (1993)
9. Act Of God (1994)
10. Rescue (1995)
11. Invasion Of Privacy (1996)
12. The Only Good Lawyer (1998)
13. Spiral (1999)