Thirty-something, divorced, and working part-time as a car repossessor to stay out of the poorhouse, ex-newspaperman turned private detective Harry James Denton needs any client he can get. It's just his luck that the first person to waltz into his Nashville office is Rachel Fletcher, the woman who stole—then broke—his heart in college. Now the man she married is in big trouble, and Rachel wants Harry to forget about yesterday and make sure her husband lives to see tomorrow.
This first installment in author Steven Womack’s Nashville P.I. series won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as Best Original Paperback. Each installment afterward won or was nominated for a major mystery award, with the fifth book—Murder Manual—winning the Shamus Award.
Nashville PI Harry James Denton is hired by an old flame, Rachel Fletcher, to help her settle her husband Conrad's gambling debts--Conrad has been getting pay-up-or-else messages. Harry decides to drop in on Conrad, a surgeon, at the local hospital--and finds him sprawled on a bed, unconscious and near death. Harry is then whacked on the head by an unseen assailant. He later learns from forensic pathologist Marsha Helms that a narcotic injection caused Conrad's death. Strongly intimating that she would like to turn to him for comfort, Rachel pulls Harry off the case. Nevertheless, he is determined to find Conrad's murderer. Attending the wake, he finds that Conrad was rather unpopular; the guests have come less to pay their respects than ``to make sure he was really dead.'' There is a lot to like in Womack's ( Smash Cut ) hard-boiled murder mystery--an engaging sleuth, a convincing setting, a passel of folks to distrust and some good minor characters (notably Marsha). But while the book's payoff has a tidy surprise in it, it also fails to tie up some important strands of the murder scenario.