It's always a pleasure to pick up one of Ed Gorman's novels, but I'm especially partial to the Sam McCain series.
For one thing, I find the setting appealing. The early '60s seem like only yesterday to me, and Gorman does a fine job of capturing the time period. He doesn't layer on the details like some writers do when delving into the past; he uses just enough to give you the flavor of the time.
For another thing, the books are the right length. This one checks in at a clean and lean 228 pages, yet the plot and the complications are such that some writers would have padded the book out to double its length. Not Gorman. There's no padding here.
And the characters are, as always, a pleasure to have around. Sam McCain's still having growing pains, and in this novel his relationship with Her Honor the Judge undergoes an unexpected change. Sam's in love again, too, this time with a member of the ubiquitous Sykes clan, if you can believe it.
Black River Falls is changing, along with Sam, and the country's changing, too, in the summer of 1963. Bull Connor's running the show down in Birmingham, and in Black River Falls a young black man's been murdered. He's been dating a young white woman, the daughter of a senator.
As usual, Gorman gets under the skin of his small town, examining attitudes toward race while bringing in politics, blackmail, bikers, class warfare, sex, and lots more, all even-handedly and with some surprising revelations. Do yourself a favor and check it out.