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Old Flame: A Jackson Steeg Novel    by Ira Berkowitz order for
Old Flame
by Ira Berkowitz
Order:  USA  Can
Three Rivers, 2008 (2008)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Hey, fans of tough, hard-boiled crime novels. Listen up. It is now time to enjoy a 275-page adrenaline rush. Dark, manic, harrowing, and humorous, the most highly recommended Old Flame has it all - revenge, brutality, kidnapping, graft, mystery, and, of course, just to keep things moving along briskly, some really nasty, mean-spirited murders.

Ira Berkowitz's latest, not-to-be-missed Jackson Steeg novel opens when Steeg's ex-mother-in-law asks for (and his ex-wife repeats the request for) his help. Here is the problem: Death threats have culminated in the ex-wife's third husband's (Tony Ferris') murder. The question is this: whodunit?

Haunted by assorted demons, monsters, and snakes in his head, Steeg, recovering as an alcoholic and a medically retired gunshot victim from the NYPD, knows that he shouldn't but nevertheless reluctantly gets involved in what should be a straight-forward police matter. But the cops - for their own reasons - seem less than motivated, so Steeg grudgingly sets about the dirty business of making 'things right' for a woman he no longer loves (and for a former mother-in-law that no one could possibly love) even though the woman he now loves (advertising executive Allie Lebow) is not at all pleased about Steeg's renewed relationship with the woman he divorced ten years ago. So much for Steeg's complicated relationships.

Well, quicker than you can say 'There's something rotten in New York City,' Steeg finds himself entangled in a sordid web of jealousy, bigotry, corruption, and violence. Even though Steeg wants to simply find out what happened to his ex-wife's dead husband, there are plenty of obstacles: A friend's entrepreneurial (though felonious) spirit runs afoul of the homicidal leader of the local Jewish mob; Steeg's brother - a very dangerous fellow with an unsavory reputation - raises the stakes with his considerable involvement in the action; a city official's fondness for money and women tries everyone's patience; and, in the midst of all the chaos, Steeg's biggest challenge is anything but simple: staying alive.

Written with the kind of raw power that would have impressed Mickey Spillane and Ed McBain, Old Flame (like its predecessor Family Matters) is absolute proof that Ira Berkowitz is the new wise guy on the block in the world of noir crime fiction. For fans of crime fiction, the bottom line is this: you'll love Steeg, you'll love Ira Berkowitz, and you'll love Old Flame. Don't miss it! (And, of course, like me you will be waiting impatiently for the next installment in the Jackson Steeg series: Sinner's Ball.)

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