A Bullet Apiece
By John Joseph Ryan
A 2015 release from
Blank Slate Press
The novel is a comfort read. That is, if you are an inveterate reader of
crime fiction, you can be comforted knowing that every joke, every bon
mot, just about every cliché of the genre finds its way into the pages
of this book. The dialogue ain't far off, either.
Ed Darvis is a St. Louis PI with a main-floor office in a seedy part of
town. The period is sometime after the end of the second world war.
Across the road-I suspect it's a paved street-is a charter school of
some kind and while Mr. Darvis is currently idle, he spends time smoking
cigarettes, observing the kiddies and ogling the teachers. And some of
One day, a leggy, seductive woman who drives a late-model Caddy coupe
bursts from the school door in what our astute PI deduces is intense
fear, "radiating off her like heat waves." She roars off in a cloud of
exhaust leaving one of the teachers, clearly agitated, standing at the
schoolroom door. What we have is clearly a case of child abduction.
Enter PI Ed Darvis, cigarette dangling, loaded .38 in his belt, ready
and willing to find the child and bed either comely teacher or luscious
mother, not necessarily in that order.
The dialogue is snappy and often cute, the action is rousing and
predictable and the plot becomes surprisingly tangled. Whether the whole
thing is a tongue-in-cheek put-on or a serious attempt at a novel is for
readers to determine. This reviewer is persuaded the author invested a
considerable effort to produce this story and it has its moments.