Friday, June 13, 2014

Forgotten Books: The Dark Mirror - Basil Copper

Basil Copper is a British author probably best known for his horror fiction, but he also wrote a successful series of mystery novels about an American private eye named Mike Faraday. Years ago I ran across one of them at Fantastic Worlds Bookstore, which carried some British paperbacks, and read it and enjoyed it. Now Piccadilly Publishing is bringing back the series in e-book editions, and I just read the first one, THE DARK MIRROR.

Mike Faraday is from the Dan Turner/Shell Scott school of private eyes, quick with a wisecrack and with an eye for a good-looking babe. He's not quite as humorous as those two icons, but he's definitely up there with, say, Rick Holman and Al Wheeler from the Carter Brown books. In this novel he's hired by a man who has a connection to the murder of a shady art dealer. It seems that Mike's client turned over a valuable item of some sort to the victim, and he wants Mike to recover it without even being told what he's looking for. That seems like an impossible job, but it becomes even harder when Mike's client is abruptly murdered himself, which will come as no surprise to any experienced reader of private eye fiction.

From there the plot spins out into a complex maze of more murders, several femme fatales (all of whom go for Mike, of course), espionage, and high level corruption. Copper keeps things moving along at a brisk, highly enjoyable pace, all the way to an ending that probably won't be exactly what you expect. His version of Los Angeles rings fairly true—more authentic than the usual James Hadley Chase novel, anyway, and don't get me wrong, I like James Hadley Chase's work—and Mike Faraday is a very likable narrator/protagonist.

I'm glad the fine folks at Piccadilly Publishing are bringing these back. This is just the sort of series that's made for e-books: short, fast, and a lot of fun. If you're a private eye fan, you definitely should check out Mike Faraday.


Jerry House said...

I've found Copper's mike Faraday books to be addictive.

George said...

I'm with Jerry: Copper's Mike Faraday books are addictive!