JACK LYNCH – Bragg’s Hunch. Peter Bragg #1. Gold Medal, paperback original; 1st printing, 1982. Brash Books, trade paperback, 2014, as The Dead Never Forget. Reprinted in Bragg V1 by Brash Books, trade paperback, 2014. (This omnibus volume includes the first three Peter Bragg books.)

   While other authors have recently been doing their best to stretch the boundaries of PI fiction, Jack Lynch’s Peter Bragg conforms almost exactly to the time-worn image everyone has of the tough independent California private eye. Women appeal to him, of course, but he doesn’t knock himself out chasing them. Even so (you guessed it), he still ends up with more of them on this case than he knows what to do with.

   This is the first of a new series, based in San Francisco. Bragg is hired by a self-made businessman (which is a polite way of saying he has a piece of a good many sleaze-joints around the Bay area) who needs protection. The man is especially worried that whoever is making threats against him will start taking them out against his young teen-aged stepdaughter.

   The trail leads Bragg out to one of those legendary western whore-towns that exist maybe only in fiction. Before he’s hardly had time to turn around, or so it seems, he’s managed to set the two major criminal elements in town off one against the other. A bloody gang war results, as fierce as anything seen since Prohibition – or the days of Dashiell Hammett!

   All the right buttons are pressed. Somehow the right spark refuses to go off. Some well-drawn touches show some insight into character – some blatant, some subtle – but for the most part, well, let’s just say the action peaks too soon.

Rating: B minus.

– Reprinted and slightly revised from The MYSTERY FANcier, September/October 1982.

UPDATE: There were in all eight recorded adventures of Peter Bragg. Reviewed earlier on this blog are #3,Pieces of Death, and #7, Seattle, here and here. The latter has a list of all eight.