All the noir elements are present in this fine novel from Peter Abraham. Nick Petrov is a PI with celebrity status. Armand Assante portrayed him in a movie. In film conscious LA that could carry a man for a lifetime of “hey, aren’t you the guy?” Nick is the guy, finder of missing women, a fellow as relentless as a Santa Ana. When he is approached by a woman who needs help finding her missing daughter, the reader feels uneasy. This lady is unreliable. She lies. Therein lies a tale.
The setting is Los Angeles. Nick lives in Venice, canals and all. Like most Angelenos, Nick has maps in his head, freeway maps, primary and alternate routes, a matrix for navigational purposes. Nick has a cabin in the mountains, an ex-wife, a teenage son. He bought his house before prices soared, he’s got it made.
Any number of contemporary authors set their stories in LA. Michael Connelly, Barbara Saranella, Peter Moore Smith, Terrell Lee Lankford, Gregg Hurwitz, Pete Dexter, James Ellroy, just to name a few. Why not? Nowhere else does stunning beauty coexist with brutal ugliness with such panache.
Nick Petrov is smart, tough, successful, but flash bulbs are popping behind his eyes. Penny sized headaches, lost moments, blank spots. He has brain cancer, diagnosed after what he calls The Lost Weekend. The disease is nearly always fatal, and so is bad judgment. Nick is searching for a missing girl, at least that is what he thinks. What he is really looking for becomes the novel’s most compelling aspect, a tangled web of memory, history, passion, and betrayal.
Peter Abraham is not try to bust any genre boundaries, in fact, he takes all the classic elements of noir, shakes them up, serves them cold. This book is right from the opening scene to the climax. If you are not familiar with Abraham’s work, this novel is a great way to get acquainted.