Damnation Street: A Weiss and Bishop Mystery
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Tim Davis
eet Scott Weiss, Jim Bishop, Julie Wyant, and the
. These are the principal characters in Andrew Klavan's tenth novel,
irst: Scott Weiss, the owner and principal detective of the Weiss Agency in San Francisco, is a big man with a paunch, '
a sad, ugly face,
' a bulbous nose and sagging cheeks, unkempt salt-and-pepper hair, and '
a knack for reading people.
' In his fifties, Weiss had a long career with the San Francisco Police Department before going into business on his own. Now he tries to live a somewhat simple life in which Macallan scotch whiskey remains one of his principal pleasures.
econd: Jim Bishop, having worked in the troubled past with his estranged friend Weiss, is a tall, well-built, '
' who stands out among others principally because of his sardonic smile and his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. As a self-described '
' who recently survived a murderous relationship, the former military Black Ops specialist, has recently been especially fond of hanging out in bars. When he gets himself involved in a violent incident in a jail cell, Bishop finds himself briefly '
shaking hands with the devil,
' which will fortuitously lead him to crucial information that might help him save Weiss's life.
hird: Julie Wyant, a San Francisco prostitute with a shadowy background, has recently had a run-in with a violent man who now obsesses over her. Anxious to avoid further problems with the man known as the Shadowman, Julie is on the run.
ourth: The Shadowman - calling himself John Foy when he is willing to be acknowledged by the world round him - has '
a gift for moving through the world unseen,
' which is a useful ability for a professional killer. In fact, '
murder had been good to the Shadowman. He's made millions at it over the years.
' His prey seldom, if ever, escapes.
he complicated convergence of these four characters is the heart-and-soul of
. You see, for reasons best left unexplained at this point, the Shadowman has been pursuing Weiss for a long time. Now the Shadowman is pursuing Julie. And again for reasons best left unexplained at this point, Weiss is also pursuing Julie. So, in a deadly and fast-paced cat-and-mouse game, Julie Wyant - if that really is her name - leads the detective and the professional killer on a not-so-merry chase all over California and Nevada, and the dangerous trail ultimately takes everyone - including Jim Bishop and the occasional narrator (the author) - to the explosive and murderous climax at the House of Dreams, a brothel on Damnation Street in beautiful, downtown Union City, Nevada.
nd so it goes in
. This most recent Andrew Klavan novel is an intriguing tale of blackmail, secrecy, and murder in which the lives of families, friends, co-workers, enemies, and cold-blooded killers intersect in the most surprising ways. By employing something like a meta-fiction fusion of third-person and first-person narration, which might be initially confusing to readers, the Edgar award winning author Klavan is successful in his technique of conflating fiction (which is actually a creative nonfiction rendering of Weiss's and Bishop's pulse-pounding adventures) and nonfiction (which is actually something like a memoir - with poetic license - in which Klavan recalls his experiences as a non-detective employee at a San Francisco agency). As elsewhere noted, the hardboiled
features a '
gripping plot and engrossing characters
' as well as '
darkness, light, horror, and humor,
' which are '
all fused into a relentless tale of suspense.
' I agree!
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