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The Red Storm


The Red Storm

Back in the 1920s, William Fletcher had a lot of success as a heavyweight boxer and wanted to keep on with it, but he got fed up with the politics of the sport and the unfairness of the game.

So fast forward to the ’30s, and we find Fletcher in New Orleans where he has turned to private detective work --- legit with a license and all --- despite clients being few and far between. After years at it, he’s been getting by, though, having built a fair name for himself while staying on the good side of the law as much as he can, especially tricky for a black man. Back then, the laws were a bit different for coloreds. So when a fellow from his past with a warrant on his head looks him up, Fletcher wants nothing to do with him. Involvement with that man can only mean trouble. You see, Bill Storm once employed Fletcher’s help in some shady schemes during lean times up in New York. And now he’s here asking for a favor: find his long-lost daughter, Zella. Someone told Storm she had been spotted down here in New Orleans.

"This is a very engaging detective story. William Fletcher’s voice is wonderfully unique, with a touch of the wisecracker mixed in with the laid-back gumshoe."

Fletcher doesn’t want anyone thinking he’s associating with a fugitive. Yet, for some reason, he takes a look around that evening anyway, just to see if he can find Zella. Fletcher is a smart guy and is good at his job, which makes him a skeptic --- and that keeps him alive: “Done this job long enough to know things are often not as they first appear, and they just spell themselves out with time and I guess a little prodding. Sure, you might get some twisted schemes, but the motives behind them are basic enough, and easy to spot.”

What he discovers is that finding Zella isn’t the hard part. The hard part is keeping her alive once he has pinned her down, because it seems that one of Storm’s many enemies wants his kid dead. That means Fletcher has more trouble on his hands than he figured on. Plenty of people are warning him off, but tenacity is his middle name. As he continues to poke around, though, he begins to realize that he has gotten himself smack in the middle of a war between rival factions in the city. Had it not been for his contact at NOPD, Fletcher might have found himself behind bars for a long time, considering the number of bodies that have been turning up on the streets since Storm hit town. And if it isn’t enough to have to watch out for the cops, he has some of the guys on the other side of the law gunning for him as well. Is Zella worth risking his life?

This is a very engaging detective story. William Fletcher’s voice is wonderfully unique, with a touch of the wisecracker mixed in with the laid-back gumshoe. This PI is one to watch, amiable enough but tough when he needs to be. THE RED STORM is just the first cast he’s sharing with us. I, for one, hope there will be many more.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on December 3, 2015

The Red Storm
by Grant Bywaters