Monday, November 11, 2013

Introducing Detective Sergeant Mulheisen

Reviewed by James L. Thane
Four out of five stars

First published in 1977, this is the book that introduced Detective Sergeant "Fang" Mulheisen of the Detroit P.D., the protagonist in Jon A. Jackson's excellent series of crime novels. Also appearing for the first time is Joe Service, the mob hit man who would be Mulheisen's long-running nemesis.

The book takes place during a brutally cold and snowy December. As it opens, a beautiful and wealthy young housewife is savagely murdered during the course of an apparent burglary. I mean, one minute you're lounging in the tub with your aromatic bath salts and five minutes later, you're stumbling into the neighbor's house with a knife sticking out of your back. It's just that kind of a day.

Det. Sergeant Mulheisen is soon on the job and is intrigued to learn that the woman's husband is Arthur Clippert, a former gridiron star known as The Clipper back in his glory days. More recently, the Clipper is the last man standing when the Fidelity Trust Insurance Company goes under in an investment scandal of gargantuan proportions. Twenty million dollars is missing in the fraud and Clippert is the only member of the firm who hasn't yet been indicted.

Mulheisen begins doggedly pursuing the case and turns up a sexy young friend of the murdered woman who has some very interesting tales to tell. Things proceed as they naturally will and before you know it, it's Christmas Day; one of the biggest blizzards in history has hit Detroit; the city is basically closed down, and a bunch of really nasty villains are in the wind.

One really shouldn't say more for giving away too much of the plot, but Mulheisen is a very intriguing protagonist, and I'm very much looking forward to re-reading this series and following his career all over again. This story, like all of the others, is very well-told; the characters are well-drawn, and there's enough suspense and wry humor to satisfy virtually any crime fiction fan.

If you somehow missed this series, you might well want to look for it. But you should understand that Mulheisen and Joe Service have a long and complicated relationship that evolves over the course of the series. You'll definitely want to start at the beginning and watch it unfold.

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