JOHN LUTZ – The Right to Sing the Blues. Alo Nudger #3. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 1986. Tor, paperback, 1988. iBooks, softcover, 2001.

   Alo Nudger is a PI home based in St. Louis, but as a diehard jazz fan, when he gets a chance to take a case in New Orleans, and a potentially lucrative one at that, he jumps at the chance. One of his idols, former clarinetist Fat Jack McGee, now a night club owner, has a problem: his current piano player is making eyes at the young girl now singing for Fat Jack at his club. Problem is, the girl is anonymously the daughter of New Orleans most notorious crime lord.

   Trouble is brewing, and Fat Jack needs Nudger to get him out of it.

   The gimmick in the Alo Nudger stories is that the man has a nervous stomach – a very nervous stomach – and he takes antacids totally non-stop throughout the story. Personally I think as a gimmick, it’s overdone, but you have to admit that it’s also unique.

   John Lutz, who died in 2021, was a very good writer. His prose flows smooth and easily, with every so often an especially nice turn of phrase, and his characters are substantially more than two-dimensional. What bothered me, though, plotwise, is why his investigation annoys so many people, including the cops and a pair of thugs who take utter delight in beating him up every so often.

   It’s all straightened out by the end of the book though, when all of the pieces finally fall into place. All in all, not an epic piece, but an entirely enjoyable one.

   Rating on my trademarked H/B [hard-boiled] scale: 4.8. Too many Tums!

      The Alo Nudger series –

1. Buyer Beware (1976)
2. Night Lines (1985)
3. The Right to Sing the Blues (1986)
4. Ride the Lightning (1987)
5. Dancer’s Debt (1988)
6. Time Exposure (1989)
7. Diamond Eyes (1990)
8. Thicker Than Blood (1993)
9. Death by Jury (1995)
10. Oops! (1998)
The Nudger Dilemmas (story collection, 2001)