“Picture this – Wilde City, 1924…”
Author: Geoffrey Knight
Publisher: Wilde City
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Welcome to Wilde City, 1924—a crane on top of every skyscraper, a party in every club, a romance on every dance floor, a shooting every night, a broken heart on every street corner and a dirty secret behind every window with the curtain drawn. It’s the kinda town that keeps Buck Baxter, private detective, in business.
For despite his fondness for a cold gin and a pipe stuffed with cannabis, Buck is the best gumshoe in Wilde City. Why? Because he has rules: never make friends, never make enemies, and never ever fall in love. That is until the day playboy nightclub owner Holden Hart swings into town. He’s suave, he’s charming, he’s chivalrous… and he’s exactly the kinda man that Buck will break all the rules for.
From the romance of the Rainbow Palace atop the Wilde City Tower, to the dazzling debauchery of the gentlemen’s parlor The Velvet Viper—from the history surrounding the sinister convent on the hill better known Hell’s Bells, to the lantern-lit opium barge, The Peking Empress, run by the mystical Madame Chang—could Buck be about to unravel the greatest mystery of them all…
The mystery of love?
This is the jazz age, gin joints and trilbies abound, and everyone has their secrets.
This starts out with a classically pulpy tone with names to match: Buck Baxter, Holden Hart and so many more. I was already grinning.
Craftily paired with this is a depth of emotion I was not expecting. It worked well in telling me more about our man Buck, his life, his past… his heart.
Holden Hart. More on him later.
Heat and poignancy, a tricky combo to pull off. Knight does just that, making it look easy. With each passing page, I liked Buck more and more.
I like when a character makes a 180, makes a choice that surprises them. I like it even better when I believe in the surprise they feel at their own actions. That’s good writing, yo.
The mix of flippant and complete descriptions of place and time with complicated emotion is something I very much enjoyed about this story. The physical details made for a concrete place in which to experience that jumbled heart of Buck’s. It’s not jumbled without reason. Life has been tough since day one for him, so the distance he maintains between that heart and others is understandable.
Enter Holden Hart. More on him later. I promise.
I like when the mystery ends up being the characters themselves, trying to find their way, instead of an overarching puzzle to be solved. Buck is that character. He’s struggling and determined, closed off, yet feels like he’s losing the battle to remain the man he believes himself to be, that he has to be.
Ok, so the supporting characters: they rock. Madame Chang, Stella Darling, Mama Marlow, even Dutch. Amusing, engaging, and sporting a few surprises of their own.
So, Holden Hart. A rich son destined to inherit the fortune of his rich father. Someone who has experienced life from breath one in quite different ways than Buck, in every way, really. Except, Holden is attuned to the emotions of others, an observer, just like Buck. Also like Buck, he’s finding it challenging to ignore the pull of desire, the need of connection, the hope of comfort forming between them.
There are a couple of scenes that felt a little heavy handed in delivery and intent but it was probably too tempting to resist in doing that. The subjects, after all, are worthy of direct confrontation and presentation.
Wow. The ending? Wow. More than one wow. I almost thought I should be ashamed for not having seen them, but no way, it’s all too good.
This could (and should!) turn into a series. Buck Baxter has many more stories to tell, many more steps to take along this new road on which he’s found himself to be traversing. And guess what? It is! Next up: “Buck Baxter and the Disappearing Divas”, and I can’t wait!
I wrote this review quicker than most I’ve ever done. I think it was part adrenaline fueled by that ending and part joy and appreciation for this story and Buck Baxter. 😀
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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