Winner of the Minotaur Books/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel Competition introducing a black ex-boxer P.I. working in 1930s New Orleans
Newly-minted private investigator William Fletcher is having trouble finding clientele. He's not the only man out of work, but his past as a former heavyweight contender with a few shady connections-not to mention the color of his skin in race-obsessed New Orleans-isn't helping lure clients to his door. Stuck without any viable alternative, he takes a case from an old criminal acquaintance, Storm. His only client assures him that the job is simple-locate his missing estranged daughter, Zelda, no questions asked.
But when Fletcher starts knocking on doors, he sets off a catastrophic chain of events that turn the city into a bloody battleground between two rival syndicates. Then Storm is murdered and Fletcher finds himself caught between the police and dangerous mobsters. With Zelda's safety in the balance, the unlikely private detective finds himself with a lot more than he bargained for.
The Red Storm is the first novel from licensed private investigator-turned-novelist Grant Bywaters.
Former heavyweight boxer William Fletcher, the narrator of Bywaters's promising debut, winner of the PWA Best First Private Eye Novel competition, is scraping by as a PI in 1938 New Orleans when Bill Storm, a criminal acquaintance, asks Fletcher to find his estranged daughter, the beautiful but hate-filled Zella Storm. Fletcher winds up becoming Zella's protector after Bill's murder. Because Sal Mallon, a psychopathic mobster whom Bill mutilated years before, now craves revenge, Fletcher finds himself negotiating with rival gangsters, hiding Zella and her aunt in a cabin in the swamp, and collaborating nervously, since he's black with the corrupt, racist New Orleans police. Staying alive is difficult; resisting various temptations to back away is even more so but Fletcher slogs ahead through a hail of bullets. Bywaters edges near Hammett territory with this unassuming hero who stoically accepts that, even though the odds are heavily stacked against him, he still needs to go on doing the best he can.