Readers familiar with David Handler's Berger and Mitry series will want to know right up front that Runaway Man is not one of those mysteries, and it's much grittier. Benji Golden is a delightful narrator and character in this book. But, some readers might be offended by language in the book, and might not get far enough into the book to appreciate Benji.
As Benji tells the story, the staff of Golden Legal Services were a little surprised when a partner in a prominent Park Avenue law firm asked them to look for a missing person. Benji did much of the legwork for the firm while "Lovely Rita", who worked as a lap dancer to put herself through Rutgers computer science program, handled the computer searches. Benji's boss was his mother, Abby, the widow of a renowned NYPD homicide detective. Abby, like Rita, was a former exotic dancer. It wasn't the kind of detective agency usually employed by a powerful law firm. Benji was a little surprised when they were asked to track down a missing college student who had money coming to him.
But, Benji, with his slight stature and youthful appearance, specialized in tracking runaways. It wasn't long, though, before he regretted his expertise. When he finds a body shortly after the murder, and then bodies start piling up, Benji suspects there's more to the search for a missing person than just an inheritance. It seems Golden Legal Services is involved in a story that reaches all the way to the power brokers in New York City. However, someone underestimates Benji and Abby Golden.
As I said earlier, there will be objections to some of the language, although it seems appropriate for a seventeen-year-old who is trying to appear tough and adult. Interestingly enough, more people might object to the language than object to the string of murders in the book. Murder is just accepted as part of the crime novel.
Readers who appreciate Runaway Man will probably like it for Benji himself. He may be young, but he's shrewd and honest. And, his most appealing trait, for many of us who are mystery readers, is his sense of justice. "I cared about real justice, the kind where the bad guys go to jail and stay there." And, Benji knows, that, in this case, power might top justice.
Meet Benji Golden and the staff of Golden Legal Services in David Handler's new Runaway Man. Gritty, amusing at times, and the story of an honest man.
David Handler's website is www.davidhandlerbooks.com
Runaway Man by David Handler. St. Martin's Minotaur. 2013. ISBN 9781250011626 (hardcover), 246p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.