JAMES E. MARTIN – The Flip Side. Gil Disbro #2. Putnam, hardcover, 1990. Avon, paperback, 1991.

   While Cleveland-based PI Gil Disbro had a respectable four-book run in the early 1990s from a couple of major publishers, he doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on the mystery reading public. Reviews of his books on the Internet are relatively few, and as is the case with several other PI’s of the same era, he’s generally forgotten now.

   In The Flip Side, his second outing, the case builds from almost nothing to a complicated tale of kidnapping and two murders. He’s hired by the shy tutor (female) for the young son of a college professor, both of whom have disappeared. Just another missing persons case, he thinks, more suitable for the police to handle, he thinks, if even there is a case.

   It doesn’t take him long, though, to learn how wrong he is. Luckily, though, Disbro is one of those guys whom the people he questions start telling their entire life stories to. If he wasn’t, I don’t think he’d have much of a career as a private investigator. But he’s also persistent, in the well-established Lew Archer sense, if not out and out doggedness, and closes out the case in fine fashion.

   Since he tells his story in first person, it takes a while to tell what kind of person he is, inside and out. He’s young, dressed casually, and while a heavy smoker, doesn’t drink a lot. He lives with a college professor (female) who is a few years older than he is, but he (unfortunately) can be seduced by one of his suspects (also female) for no good reason.

   Overall, though, a better than average outing. I’d read another, if one comes along, but without the urgency of needing to hunt down another, if that makes sense.