Tonight I Said Goodbye (2004)
Author: Michael Koryta
Genre: Mystery (Private Investigator)
Lincoln Perry and Joe Pritchard are former police detectives now turned private investigators who take a case involving Wayne Weston and his family. Weston has been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and his wife, Julie, and five-year-old daughter, Betsy, are missing. It is assumed that Weston killed his family, then killed himself, but Weston’s father does not believe that and asks Perry and Pritchard to investigate. As the investigation progresses, Wayne Weston’s ties to the Russian mob and the wealthiest man in Cleveland are discovered. A meeting with Randy Hartwick, a friend of Wayne’s who potentially has information about Wayne’s death, ends when Hartwick is shot while talking to Perry and Pritchard. While in South Carolina investigating a lead, Perry finds Julie and Betsy alive and well. Julie shows Perry a videotape of a murder that started the trouble and while planning their next move, they are found by the Russians who want them both dead. They rush back to Cleveland where Perry and Pritchard devise a way to clear Wayne Weston’s name and keep Julie and Betsy safe. SPOILER: Perry realizes Julie was the one who killed her husband. She admits to this, saying his troubles got the entire family in trouble and the only way she and her daughter could live a normal life would be by ending her husband’s life.
Geographical Setting: Cleveland, OH, and Myrtle Beach, SC
Time Period: present day (2004)
Series: This is the first Lincoln Perry mystery. The second, Sorrow’s Anthem was published in early February.
The emotional storyline of a grandfather looking for his missing daughter-in-law and granddaughter will appeal to some readers. The relationship between Perry and Pritchard is entertaining because they tease each other, but it is clear that they care about one another. There is some humor sprinkled throughout the story. There are some romantic moments between Perry and Julie Weston and a flirtation between Perry and Amy Ambrose, a news reporter, who helps Perry and Pritchard out in their investigation. The main characters are human, making mistakes because of emotion. The secondary characters all play small but important parts in the storyline. The chapters are usually no longer than 10 pages and mostly end in emotional statements or new revelations which compels the reader to read on. Some background and current information is given on Perry’s personal life which makes him more likeable. Koryta grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, and attended Indiana University which could appeal to local readers.
Read-alikes: Koryta’s second Lincoln Perry mystery, Sorrow’s Anthem; Robert Parker’s Spenser mysteries feature a detective team (try Cold Season); Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole mysteries feature detective partners (try The Forgotten Man); Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar mysteries; Andy Straka’s Frank Pavlicek mysteries feature a police detective turned private investigator (try A Killing Sky); Rob Morris' Bananarama features a team of detectives and was very well reviewed; for readers interested in the Russian slant, consider Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko novels (the first is Gorky Park) or Peter Spiegelman's Death's Little Helpers (second of the John March novels) which features a healthy dose of Russian mafia-based intrigue.
Red Flags: There are a few instances of strong language, a sex scene that is not too graphic and several brief episodes of violence.