Ah, there’s nothing like a gumshoe, especially one who’s all-business, wizened, hardened and a slightly damaged heavy drinker. Chad Kidd checks all those boxes. He’s a private eye on a cold case that’s been on ice for almost a decade. There are slippery suspects and skeevy informants. There’s even a leggy femme fatale. And all this plays out in the sunburned streets of Palm Springs. The heat is so palpable, it wouldn’t be out of order for the reader to put the book down in search of a cool drink. But that’s the only reason they might want to put this slow burning potboiler down.
Bruce W. Perry’s nifty little detective story is a treat from start to sunbaked finish. Among the aforementioned plot points there is also a shady water commissioner and suspicious land dealings over water rights. If all this sounds like Chinatown-lite, you wouldn’t be far off. But in this case that’s not a bad thing. Perry has a gift for, in just a few clean sentences, setting readers squarely in the California desert heat. Readers will feel the temps rise as the danger escalates. And with drug dealer heavies, shadowy assassins, and brain-battered Afghanistan vets, there’s a lot of danger. Even the rattlesnakes make deadly cameos!
It’s all delicious fun with indelible characters and a grounded-in-reality plot about a grisly triple homicide. The pace is swift, the pacing edge-tinged, and the resolutions—on both the main plot and a very personal subplot—are as rewarding as they are well-earned. Through it all, readers will be almost constantly there with Kidd, and he’s a pleasure to hang around with, even if he does have a penchant for good tequila and a weakness for sexy blondes. He doesn’t always make the right decisions, but for a detective novel, his creator makes all the right ones. ATOMIC NIGHT may not be as explosive as its title, but it still packs a hell of a lotta heat.
ATOMIC NIGHT is a terrific potboiler detective thriller that’s heavy on atmosphere, with compelling and memorable characters, and a twisty murder mystery.
~Steven Foster for IndieReader