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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: Privileged Lives by Edward Stewart

I ran across Edward Stewart’s Lt. Vincent Cardozo series in an Amazon Kindle special promotion. They have been resurrected by Open Road Media, and I’m glad I found them. Stewart, who died at age 58, in 1996, had been a relatively unknown author, but this series promised to perhaps change that. It consists of four books, the last, Jury Double, having been published after his death. One reviewer suggested had he lived the series might have evolved into something like Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series; high praise, indeed. This one is the first.

The book begins with the vignette of a woman awaking after lying in a coma for almost 100 months following an accident. The scene then shifts to Cordozo on the beach being called to the homicide of a man in a mask whose leg had been amputated.

Well written with some nice phrases, e.g.: “ The air in the stairwell pressed like a blanket soaked in hot water.” and “a man who moved with the ease of a stone wall learning to walk.” Dobbs, the gossip columnist reminds me of Alice Longworth who said, “If you have nothing good to say come sit here by me.” He had some wickedly funny comments during his interview with the cops.

Another telling quote that hit home: “No matter what else happens,” he said, “no matter what else you discover has happened, hold on to work. Work is the last, the most important, the only frontier. Everything else comes and goes—but work stays. The one friend, the one parent, the one child, the one lover. It’s the only thread we’ve got to guide us through this labyrinth we call a life.”

On the other hand, this is not a book for the squeamish. There are some descriptions of sexual depravities that would, I’m sure, disturb the fearful and puritanical. I knocked off a star for what I thought were coincidences beyond belief, but generally still a good police procedural.
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