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Gumshoe in the Dark


Gumshoe in the Dark

Trouble flocks to ex-IRS agent and PI trainee Mortimer Angel like pigeons to a statue. Or is that, beautiful babes flock to Mort?

Following 2019’s GUMSHOE ROCK, trouble takes center stage in this fifth entry, since the Great Gumshoe is devoted to his wife. Mort mulls, “I’d thought that old post-IRS karma was defunct now that I’d married Lucy.” Mort is on the simple assignment of tracking down the schlemiel grandnephew of a forebear who had bequeathed him $680,000, if he is located within a month. Otherwise, the stash goes to various no-kill animal shelters.

"There is less humor and more intense thriller scenes here than in previous installments, making Mort my go-to gumshoe."

Harper Leeman (a tribute to the author of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD) is 28 and alone on a rural road 30 miles from the nearest whistle-stop reminiscent of Lucille’s Roadhouse along Route 66, as a thunderstorm approaches --- a cold, dark and stormy night. What could possibly go wrong?

Who could blame Mort for pulling over to aid a damsel in distress? Before he can exit his pickup, Harper points a pistol at him. Son of a…gun. He grabs his overnight bag and walks to the back of the truck, as instructed. Before she can hijack the pickup, Mort slices the tire valve: “Cut off a valve stem and tires go flat in a hurry.” That karma thing? The spare is flat.

Whirlwind plot twists reveal that two local teens have gone missing, as has the Nevada attorney general, Harper’s estranged mom. Now, a sinister bruiser in a black behemoth vehicle asks if Mort has seen a gal matching Harper’s description. Nope! Mort fails to mention that she’s hiding in the truck. Harper sits on Mort’s lap to balance the three-wheeled vehicle, as they snail-pace it to a town without a motel. Things get worse --- or better --- depending upon perspective.

Totally devoted to Lucy, Mort calls from a cell phone dead zone using an antiquated landline: “Got a real kickass story to tell you, babe.” That tale includes spending the night nude with Harper while their storm-soaked clothes tumble in a dryer. Lucy does, however, implicitly trust Mort. Simple math doesn’t add up, though. How long can it take to track down a feckless nephew? That, and multiply the sum by a missing attorney general and two vanished teens. Lucy’s intuition prompts a visit a few days later. Send in the cavalry.

There is less humor and more intense thriller scenes here than in previous installments, making Mort my go-to gumshoe.

Rob Leininger’s Gumshoe series is a magnificent PI mystery smorgasbord seasoned with elements of Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum.

» Click here to read’s exclusive interview with Rob Leininger.

Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on June 4, 2021

Gumshoe in the Dark
by Rob Leininger

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1608094332
  • ISBN-13: 9781608094332