An alcoholic former private investigator; his missing niece; a police force unable to find her; and a horrifying race against time...
Mick 'Brew' Axbrewder has plenty to think about. A once capable private investigator, he is now an alcoholic after having lost his license following the accidental shooting of a police officer - his own brother.
When not drinking, Brew helps out Ginny Fistoulari, a tough, capable P.I. who he used to work with and with whom he's always shared a connection. But Brew and Ginny have an arrangement that she will never drag him out of a bar - so when she does just that, Brew knows it must be something serious. And it is. Brew's thirteen-year-old niece - his dead brother's daughter - has gone missing. The police are doing nothing and suspect she is a runaway. Until Brew's investigation uncovers a link with several other girls who all went missing, sent a letter home, then turned up dead, full of heroin. Desperately fighting the latest drinking binge and determined to stay off the bottle, Brew needs to find his niece before it is too late...
The author of the bestselling Chronicles of Thomas Covenant SF series delivers a pretty good tough guy yarn in this minimally revised reissue, the first of Donaldson's mysteries to feature alcoholic ex-PI "Brew" Axbrewder, who dries out occasionally to assist Ginny Fistoulari, his former partner and romantic interest. Axbrewder can't overcome his guilt and shame over the accidental slaying of his policeman brother. When Fistoulari rousts him from his drinking this time, it's because his young niece, Alathea, has gone missing. Fighting withdrawal through much of the book, Axbrewder joins Fistoulari in helping the girl's mother talking to unsympathetic policemen, hostile school officials and, as their investigation expands, parents of other children who have simply disappeared from school only to turn up as dead junkies and whores. The book is dated in ways important and not: Axbrewder rents a Torino to drive; the large urban school district is just beginning to computerize records; the police seem indifferent to a bunch of 12- or 13-year-old schoolgirls disappearing from school and later showing up as corpses. Fans of the author's most recent Axbrewder story, last year's The Man Who Fought Alone, might relish this peek at his origins, but readers seeking a contemporary mystery are likely to be disappointed. FYI:The novel was first published as a paperback original in 1980 under the pseudonym Reed Stephens.