Updated: Mar 25
Shamus Dust by Janet Roger is an entertaining throwback to the early noir PI stories of the 1940-50s. Newman is a US-born investigator who went to England after the 1929 market crash to work for Lloyds of London investigating insurance fraud, where he continued to work to root out fraud in US charges for wartime goods supplied to UK in WWII. Post-war London, blitz-bombed and burned, is a societal mess as the labor government struggles to recover. I enjoyed the scenes she painted of the Brits keeping a stiff lip and soldiering on.
The story gives the reader a multitude of suspects to the first murder, then there’s the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Newman is often a police suspect because he is at the scene of subsequent murders. Like many American PI stories, Newman walks a fine line between protecting his client and not antagonizing the police, even when he suspects police malfeasance.
His client is upper crust and an appointed official of the City government, and like many upper crusts, likes to flirt with London’s shadier side.
Newman has his flirtations and a romance in the budding stages before the 5th murder. (Unlike Mickey Spillane PI stories, there are no sex scenes.) True to the noir genre, Newman gets beat-up 3 times before he turns it over to the police, who hold him for the 5th murder.
Because it’s a noir, no one wins, and Newman ventures on, sadder but honorable.
Shamus Dust is an excellent tale, well told, and an enjoyable read
ABOUT FRANK KELSO
A biomedical research scientist in his day job, Frank Kelso writes short stories and novels that include thrillers, historical fiction and westerns. He won the Silver Medal for the Will Rogers Medallion Award 2017 and was a finalist for the Western Fictioneer’s Peacemaker Award. Two of his “shorts” were finalists for the Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writer’s Association.
He enjoys living on an island on the Alabama Gulf Coast at the Florida border with sunny days, sugar white sands, turquoise blue water, fishing, and smooth sailing - a long, long way from the snow and fog of 1947 London.