After a long stay abroad and a love affair that fell apart, Mitch Roberts is headed home. Back to his ranch, his horses and maybe, to being a private eye again. But if Roberts is looking forward to an uneventful life, he has farther to go than a return to southern Colorado. His problems start when a beautiful flight attendant suggests he meet her for a drink at her favorite bar in a stopover in Miami. The bar’s parking lot, however, comes equipped with two thugs who knock Mitch out, take his passport, credit cards, and every cent in his pocket, and drive off in his rental car.
Desperate, Mitch calls the only person he knows in Miami, a former college acquaintance named Bobby Hilliard, a rather sleazy character who has made a lot of money in questionable ways, and is now an art dealer. When Mitch finds the seductive flight attendant at the man’s mansion, he is quick to realize he has been set up. But an offer of a sorely needed big fee tempts him, and he accepts a job offer from Hilliard. Hilliard’s agent, sent to Haiti with money to buy a large number of Haitian paintings has disappeared. Mitch’s job is to find the agent and buy paintings to replace those that were lost. But Haiti is dismaying. Police officials openly scoff at Mitch. He is sickened by the tropical heat and by the atmosphere of poverty, fear and paranoia. When Mitch finds that the agent has been murdered he does what he must, aided only by a Haitian guide, poor but educated, and a loyal man with whom Mitch travels the country.
The gritty dialogue, menace-filled Haitian atmosphere, and exciting double conclusion are first rate, typical of this underappreciated, long-running series.
The ninth installment in this respected series finds peripatetic ballplayer-turned PI Roberts in turbulent post-Duvalier Haiti in an absorbing and exotic mix of murder and vodun, or Haitian voodoo. The squalor and poverty prevalent throughout the island are memorably evoked.
The new entry in Gaylord Dold’s long running Mitch Roberts private eye series has the subtlety of Graham Green and the sinew of John D. MacDonald, with a dash of Lawrence Durrell’s fever dreams tossed in. Creepy ambiguity, tropical heat, and polished writing combine to make this a memorable mystery novel.
The Portland Oregonian