Five Decembers by James Kestrel

Five DecembersFive Decembers by James Kestrel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe is a detective for the Honolulu PD right before Pearl Harbor. He’s assigned to a double murder; the victims are a Japanese girl and an American man, the nephew of the local admiral, in fact. The trail of the murderer leads him on a chase through the Pacific until he reaches Hong Kong. Then December 7 happens. The story follows him through the war years and after. It’s replete with blood and romance and some very unlikely scenarios.

The book is published by Hard Case Crime and that tells you something. Expect fists, guns, and knives. I like the throwback noir style. The pacing is good, constantly tempting me to read a few more pages. It kept me hooked to the end, but I wasn’t entirely thrilled with it. The characters and events were so overdone that they were almost more like a superhero comic book than a novel. The bad guys aren’t just bad, they’re nazis of superhuman size or sadistic cruelty or both. Joe is inhumanly resourceful and intelligent, learning a foreign language fluently almost overnight and winning every gunfight. The women are all young and beautiful and Joe can have any of them – but will he? The final scene is both predictable and ridiculous. Still, it’s action-packed and a fun read.

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