Friday, July 08, 2011

Forgotten Books: Unfaithful Servant -- Timothy Harris

Some time ago, I did a "Forgotten Books" post on Timothy Harris. I mentioned that after two really good private-eye novels featuring Thomas Kyd, Harris got into the movie biz and didn't write any more novels until after a lapse of many years he published Unfaithful Servant in 2004. I knew I'd have to read that one, eventually, and I finally got around to it. I'm glad I did.

Kyd's still a burnt-out case, running his one-man p.i. operation and not making a lot of money, when Hugo Vine tries to hire him. Hugo's 14, his mom's a famous actress, and he think his father was murdered. Kyd turns him down, but circumstances conspire to bring them together again. Kyd is hired by the family to be Hugo's minder, and before long the murder investigation is in full flower. Like Chandler's The Long Good-Bye, it's a story of friendship as much as it's about a murder case.

This book is another example of how good Harris is, and another example of why I'm sorry he didn't write more books. It has the traditional Chandlerian L. A./Hollywood setting and the requisite side trip to Las Vegas. It has fine prose. It has narrative drive. It has a big cast of believable characters. It has sharp observations and descriptions on every page. This is the way it should be done.

But apparently no big publisher wanted it. Thank goodness for Five Star, which over the years has published a lot of fine crime fiction with little credit for the great job it's doing. If you haven't read anything by Harris, you should start with his first two novels, but even if you want to jump in with this one, you'll be amply rewarded.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I didn't even know this one existed. Now that's a forgotten book!

Jeff

Dan_Luft said...

I just checked it out on Thrillingdetective. This series really looks like some great forgotten books. I'm going to have to grab some.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I love this kind of set up.

Anonymous said...

Five Star web site doesn't list this book.

Bill Crider said...

It's out of print.