3+ out of 5 stars to John Hemmings‘s Forget Me Not, the first book in his “Mark Kane” mystery series. I downloaded this book when it was free several months ago and found it again yesterday when trying to clean up what I had and hadn’t read between Kindle for my PC, iPad and iPhone. Technology’s just too much sometimes! But this book wasn’t… it was just right and a surprising find.
A fun fact: this was a male author and a male protagonist, which is rare in a “cozy” mystery, so it was a good change of pace for my normal reads… But I wouldn’t exactly call it a cozy mystery (although there is no violence, no sex), especially since the author wants to follow in the footsteps of a Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. I have only read a few of those books, but it did evoke some reminders of the literary mystery classics… enough to push me to add a few more to my TBR list for future reads.
The protagonist, Mark Kane, is a PI who left law school and the police department, focusing on his analytical skills. He shares an office with some colleagues and has a Girl Friday, Lucy, his full-time friend and part-time lover. Kane, as he goes by, takes on a case to confirm whether a long-lost daughter is truly the girl Gloria gave up for adoption 40 years ago. Widower Greg is happy to share the inheritance between his two sons and his late wife’s daughter from a previous relationship, assuming the girl is telling the truth. Kane investigates, learns a few additional secrets along the way and stumbles upon a much more complicated family drama full of mystery. In the end, he’s forced to face a moral consequence of what is the right thing to do in a bad situation.
I like Kane. He’s funny, smart and direct. I didn’t like the Lucy character. She was a little too whiny and didn’t come across like the heroines of the classic mysteries. She felt like an afterthought, and her personality was a little immature as Kane’s counterpart. But she made several good points and highlighted when Kane treated her a bit poorly. Overall, she has potential and I’m hoping in future books, her character evens out a bit more.
The mystery was strong. It had all the right elements from the family drama whodunit to the necessary large inheritance and the mysterious death circumstances. And the supporting cast was fairly integrated without taking up too much side story space.
The writing was OK. Sometimes funny, sometimes very adept. But on too many occasions, I felt like it was repetitive, a re-hash of the facts. Some of it was when Kane was informing his client of progress, but several pages before, Kane was informing Lucy of his progress. It could have been merged better.
I’ll give the next book a chance as it’s a nice change of pace. Hopefully these smaller items often found in a debut of a series are ironed out.