Review

Bright Futures: A Lew Fonesca Mystery

by Stuart M. Kaminsky

Private investigator Lew Fonesca is a complex man. The Sarasota,
Florida, detective arrived in the Sunshine State as a
grief-stricken widower whose wife had been killed in a hit-and-run
accident in Chicago, Illinois. Fonesca left his job as an
investigator with the State’s Attorney of Cook County, packed
his grief and personal belongings in his car and headed south. He
drove as far as Sarasota, where he moved into a small apartment
overlooking a Dairy Queen. Never obtaining a Florida private
investigator’s license, Fonesca considers himself a process
server or, as he likes to describe it, a man who finds people.
Sometimes the individuals he locates are criminals.

BRIGHT FUTURES is the sixth Lew Fonesca novel from the pen of
Stuart M. Kaminsky, a prolific mystery writer who, like Fonesca,
migrated from Illinois to Florida. While serving as a film and film
history instructor at Northwestern University, Kaminsky authored
his first mystery and introduced readers to Toby Peters, a
Hollywood detective who numbered movie stars of the ’40s as
his clients. Sixty novels later, Kaminsky is still going strong and
Fonesca is the fourth protagonist he has presented in mystery
series. In addition to the aforementioned Peters, he regularly
sends his audience to Moscow for the adventures of Chief Inspector
Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov and returns to the streets of Chicago
for the cases of Detective Abe Lieberman. For his efforts, Kaminsky
has been honored with the Grandmaster Award from the Mystery
Writers of America.

When readers last encountered Fonesca, he had come face to face
with the driver of the car that struck and killed his wife. Now
that individual, Victor Woo, has come to Sarasota and is actually
living with Fonesca in the building at the rear of the Dairy Queen
parking lot. Alas, the Dairy Queen has been torn down and replaced
by a bank, and Fonesca’s residence and office meet the
wrecking ball in the opening pages of BRIGHT FUTURES. These
goings-on are the backdrop for the request of two high school
students for Fonesca to assist them in proving that their
classmate, Ronnie Gerall, charged with the murder of Phillip
Horvecki is innocent. Agreeing to look into Gerall’s case,
Fonesca soon finds himself meeting a cast of unique characters who
will test his abilities as well as his sanity. Along the way he
will encounter repeated gun shots, blackmail and a few cases of
stolen identity. All in a day’s work for someone who is not a
private investigator, but merely a man who finds people.

Regardless of the locale, Kaminsky exhibits a remarkable skill
in portraying neighborhoods and communities. To some degree, he
almost makes his mysteries travelogues. In addition, his characters
are presented as real people, albeit sometimes very quirky real
people.

In BRIGHT FUTURES, the characters range from the high school
students who first hire Fonesca, to an ex-actor who now has the
opportunity to bring the enforcer roles he played in movies and
television to real life, to D. Elliot Corkle, the star of countless
infomercials, who is easily recognizable by any reader who has been
enticed by the myriad of gadgets sold on TV. In addition, many
stalwarts from previous Fonesca adventures appear here. They are
Fonesca’s friends and play important roles in his private and
professional lives. Long after his latest mystery has been solved,
readers will wonder what will be the next turn in Fonesca’s
life.

Reading a Stuart Kaminsky book is like having your favorite
comfort food for dinner. You mix the basic ingredients of character
and location into a simple plot and the recipe produces an
entertaining and enjoyable reading experience. The Sarasota
Tribune
gave Kaminsky the moniker “Mr. Mystery.”
It is an appropriate title for this multi-talented author who
continues to delight mystery fans with his varied characters and
long-running series.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on December 23, 2010

Bright Futures: A Lew Fonesca Mystery
by Stuart M. Kaminsky

  • Publication Date: January 6, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 0765318288
  • ISBN-13: 9780765318282