(Teresa Geering is the author of 'The Eye of Erasmus' - here).
'BlackShadows' is not a book I would normally choose to read, but I’m so glad the opportunity was given to me.
We are introduced to the main character Errol Christopher Black, a rookie private detective as he tucks into a large bloody porterhouse steak. Detectives Terry Shadow and Dyke Spanner of the Shadow Man Detective Agency are helping him work his way through a now half empty bottle of claret.
The story unfolds in Newark New Jersey in 1935 where mobs rule, and we are witness to a typical shoot out of the time. As the table is upended to afford some form of protection from the flying bullets, they realise that they are not the intended targets but Terry Shadow meets his untimely end with two clean bullets to the head.
Ten years down the line we find Errol Christopher Black with a new partner, Hermeez Wentz and now based in Manhattan at the Black and Wentz Detective Agency along with his very obliging secretary Ava Jameson.
Errol seems happy to take on run of the mill cases and his new client Claudia seems to fit into that category. She tells of a straying fiancé George, along with the discovery of a lipstick and pair of lacy panties which don’t belong to her.
As he takes on what he considers to be a routine surveillance case, Errol is unexpectedly drawn back once more to the mobsters and gangs of that time.
His one time partner Dyke Spanner is shot to death and Errol finds himself on the trail of a blue diamond coveted by hoodlums and beautiful women alike.
The story unfolds with many twists and turns, whilst the reader is witness to the beautiful women that Errol chooses to bed, in his quest for the diamond and the elusive George. Murder is not a rare occurrence either. To state more would give away too much of the plot.
The strength of the writing led me to imagine that I was entering into a 1940’s movie with Humphrey Bogart in the wings.
I also firmly believe that with the right exposure, there is potential here for a film.
Many times during reading BLACK SHADOWS I was convinced that I had all the answers, only to be completely wrong footed by the superb, imaginative writing of Simon Swift.
More information on 'Black Shadows' - here.