THE GUILT EDGE, from the new small press publisher Perfect Crime Books, is, as far as I know, the first collection of short fiction from Robert J. Randisi. It’s split up into several sections featuring various series characters, including Henry Po, a private investigator who works for the New York State Racing Commission; Val O’Farrell, a 1920s PI and friend of Bat Masterson; and retired cop/housesitter Truxton Lewis. There are a couple of stand-alone stories, too, one of them with Bat Masterson as the lead.
Many years and many books ago, I remember reading Bob’s first novel, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF PENNY. This book includes the original short story on which that novel is based. I’d read that story, and several more of the Henry Po stories, when they were new, but it had been long enough that I was able to reread them and enjoy them all over again. The rest of the stories were new to me, and they’re really good. The Val O’Farrell stories are fast-paced and a lot of fun, as well as colorful with their Roaring Twenties setting. The Truxton Lewis stories are more low-key and have a little melancholy tone to them that works very well. I wouldn’t hesitate to read novels featuring either of these characters, if Bob ever has the time and the inclination to write them.
This is a fine collection that gives a good overview of Randisi’s career as a mystery writer, and you get a perceptive introduction by Ed Gorman, to boot. If you have any interest in private eye fiction over the past thirty years or just enjoy a good yarn, you need to read THE GUILT EDGE.
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