by Harry Steven Lazerus
Lee Slonimsky, Abbeville, SC
Moonshine Cove Publishing,
2015. 266 pp.
An engaging new private eye has sprung from the keyboard of Lee Slonimsky, a poet and hedge fund manager. J. E. Rexroth, a financially struggling shamus subsisting on the lower rungs of PI work, comes alive on the pages of Bermuda Gold, Slonimsky’s new mystery-suspense novel.
Rexroth—from whose point-of-view the story is told—is a totally believable everyman with a poet’s eye and a penchant for trying to do the right thing. The novel opens when the beautiful wife of a hedge fund manager asks him to investigate a series of threatening phone calls she may or may not have received. The intricately plotted novel moves with the speed of polished steel as it weaves together financial skullduggery, marital infidelity, murder, and the threat of nuclear terrorism. This isn’t simply a novel of detection, however. Rexroth’s digging to find the truth endangers not only himself but the love of his life. There are plenty of scenes to cause your heart to pound and pulse to race, and occasionally you may have to fight the temptation to skip some lines to find out what is going to happen as the author ratchets up the almost unbearable suspense.
But you won’t want to skip lines anywhere because you will miss much of the subtlety and beauty of the writing. The novel has a definite sense of place, and Rexroth, as he drives around the Inwood section of Manhattan and the hills of upstate New York—areas that the author seems to know well—describes what he sees with poetic elegance. There is the ever present picture of the natural world, even in this book with an urban setting, as for example the relationship between wind and clouds: “The wind went on making its albino sculpture of clouds high overhead…” Or this, as he drives to an airport: “… a red sun rose fiercely into a white dawn, while arrows of fire assaulted the waters of Jamaica Bay, targeting ripples that turned into quivering bloodstains, while black-crowned herons and herring gulls … caressed the frigid air with their graceful wings…”
The reader also gets easily digestible lessons on hedge funds as Rexroth, no financial maven himself, sets out to learn about these obscure, but influential, organizations. And throughout the novel, there are interesting tidbits about the history of places that appear in this story.
There is much to recommend Bermuda Gold: a page-turning plot, elegant writing, interesting information not usually found in the pages of a novel, and a sympathetic protagonist who is hard not to care about. Let’s hope that this is not J. E. Rexroth’s first and last appearance in a detective novel, but the start of a long series.