Friday, October 18, 2013

Forgotten Books: Emerald Flash -- Charles Knief

Charles Knief won the PWA contest in 1995 with Sand Dollars, the first novel to feature John Caine, a private-eye/bodyguard in the Travis McGee vein.  Three other novels followed, and then . . . silence.  He was clearly planning to write more books in the series, as evidenced by this long and interesting interview.  If you're wondering what happened to him, Jochem Vandersteen tracked him down and has a short interview with him here.

A couple of people have done FFB posts on Sand Dollars.  You can read them here and here.  I read that one back in the '90s and also the second novel in the series, Diamond Head.  I saw this one on the shelf in a thrift store the other day and picked it up.  The influence of John D. MacDonald is evident from the title (Emerald Flash/A Flash of Green).  Plus, John Caine lives on his boat and has a weakness for helping women in distress.  Not to mention a penchant for soliloquies.  There are two women in Emerald Flash, one much more dangerous than the other.  Margo Halliday is on the run, accused of murdering her husband by the police and accuse of stealing a bunch of emeralds from Colombian smugglers by the Colombians.  Caine knows for sure she's guilty of the theft, since she pays him with emeralds for his protection.

The story is essentially one of escape and pursuit, as it turns out there's someone trying to kill Caine, too.  Caine is nothing if not tough and resourceful, and Halliday turns out to be something a bit different from what Caine first thought.  If you're looking for an entertaining adventure, this one fills the bill.


jvdsteen said...

This is one writer and PI that I really miss. A great book.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read Knief but recently I read another similar-sounding book, Charley Memminger's Aloha, Lady Blue. Stryker McBride is a former crime reporter living on a houseboat called The Travis McGee on the leeward side of Oahu.

I thought it was really readable, the descriptions and historical perspective about Oahu interested me, and I would definitely read another.


Mark Troy said...

I've missed the John Caine stories. Emerald Flash was my favorite of the three.

Unknown said...

Jeff, I've put a hold on Memminger's book at the local library.

Kelly Robinson said...

Neat stuff. I hope he finishes the ones he has in progress.

Rick Robinson said...

I liked the first two, missed this one. I'll have to find a copy.