In William Baer’s mystery novel, a private eye finds love, lust, jealousy, and justice as he unravels a decade-old murder case in the Garden State.
Stylish and sarcastic private investigator Jack Colt takes on a cold case after its previous investigator is killed. Ten years ago, Nikki, a popular teenager, was murdered; there was a long list of suspects, but little evidence. With a team that includes Nikki’s twin, Rikki, and his best friend’s grandmother, Nonna, Colt uses his in-depth knowledge of New Jersey and the human psyche to solve the complicated case of desire and death.
Colt and his wisecracking cohorts drive the novel with pure charisma, and surprises in the investigation provide the book’s suspense. Colt is smart and slick, if subtly misogynistic; he’s dedicated to his work, but has a weakness for pretty women. He takes a no-nonsense approach to interviewing suspects, and is not afraid to get violent if he feels it will be effective. New Jersey locations and people—the beaches of Cape May; the misunderstood community of the Pine Barrens—are contextualized with illustrative details, validating Colt’s Jersey pride and signature attitude.
Colt’s dynamic with Nonna is marked by witty banter; Nonna’s librarian past makes her a strong researcher, and she plays a crucial role in Colt’s discoveries. Colt and Rikki also tease each other and trade jokes, though Colt’s insecure, emotional side is revealed as their relationship turns romantic.
With a thorough resolution that makes its connections well, New Jersey Noir: Cape May is a clever, curving mystery whose magnetic characters represent their Jersey roots in a funny, authentic way.
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