Quinn Checks In: a sure-footed start with a new, hard-boiled hero

QuinnThe opening episode in the Quinn series, this fast-paced private investigation features an intriguing core character in a savvy scenario. Like the old-fashioned pulp fiction detectives of yore, Quinn is a good guy who’s been a bit of a bad boy. He has contacts on both sides of the Philadelphia backstreets where he investigates insurance claims. He’s been inside, is owed a few favours, but has family in the force. He’s a class act boxer, more than capable of breaking a few heads if the odds in a dark alley stack up against him. Yet Quinn’s no throwback to the chauvinistic he-men of the 1950s and 60s; he has a creative streak and a history with art… art fraud in particular. And that’s how he ends up investigating the theft of a Vermeer painting.

The author’s free-flowing writing is dry, worldly-wise and seething with snappy one-liners. Quinn’s universe is comprehensively constructed with a tip of the hat to all kinds of genre tropes, from the bar where the cops drink to the Italian restaurant where you find the wiseguys, it all feels familiar – but given a refresh and a modern spring in its step. Quinn plainly is a hard man (you don’t serve three years in the pen without some weight) but he’s as smart as Jack Reacher when it comes to calculating a fight – and the carefully choreographed and tightly-described fight scenes are as good as I’ve read in a long while.

In fact, Quinn very much reminds me of Lawrence Block’s superb Scudder series, in all the right ways. Quinn’s not a tortured as Scudder, so the tone is somewhat lighter than the early books – but he’s every bit as interesting a character. And LH Thomson has built an intriguing urban environment for Quinn to develop in. Best of all, he satisfactorily wrapped up this mystery, pulling myriad plot threads together in fine style, yet left some interesting avenues open for future exploration.

All of which bodes well for the next book…

9/10

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason

Quinn Checks In is usually free to download at Amazon. Be nice to the author, and buy the next in the series too. (You’ll want to read it as soon as you finish this one, anyway…)

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