It blends personal grudges of a small-town community with the local politicians' dirty contest to win over the electorate. So when the crime takes place, our hero has plenty of possibilities to investigate. Was it business or personal? Combination of both? With a touch of a crime of passion thrown into the mix?
Once the case is solved, it does turn out that the story was solid and without plot holes. The solution too is quite complex and far from trivial so hats down to the author. Only by the time it ends, I pretty much lost interest.
It's 180 pages long. Which by itself of course is not a problem. But what is problematic is that after the first killing nothing much happens. There are no new developments to speak of except our hero constantly recruiting his helpers. There's his hard-drinking greedy boss/partner, their recently hired secretary Robbie, a newspaper reporter, and finally some lawyer. All this doesn't really help the pace since now we have five people running around like headless chicken doing fuck all instead of just one.
But the most annoying and distracting thing is Humphrey's crush on Robbie. He starts hitting on her the very first day this poor gal gets hired (#metoo!?) and keeps giving her the assignments that are well above her pay rate just so he can keep her close to him. And toward the end, we need to endure crap as corny as this:
He stood in front of her and his hands gently held her arms. There was so much he wanted to say, so much he could have said if Robbie had been someone else. No glibness now. All his pretty speeches valueless - because he had said them so many times before. And if they were true, they wouldn't sound that way. Repetition had robbed them of the ring of truth.
Ok, I'll give Mr. Homes some benefit of the doubt. You see, Robbie has a crush on Joe who is also the main suspect. So it may be possible that the author intentionally created this love(less) triangle to mislead the reader into believing that Joe is actually guilty so that Robbie will broken-heartedly fall in hands of our hero at the end. Kind of a double twist. But even if that were true, this shit is way too annoying to compensate for such a gimmick.
Well written with more than a decent plot but ultimately disappointing. Geoffrey Homes remains one of my main men so I'll call this one a slip and blame the editor instead of the author. Who knows how it would turn out with Robbie's character dropped (and consequently the book trimmed down for 50 odd pages) and some action sequences added. A few more stiffs wouldn't hurt it either.