Monday, September 08, 2014

Riders on the Storm -- Ed Gorman

If you want to read about what life was like in the late 1950s to the early '70s, you could go to books written during that time (you need search no further than John D. MacDonald).  Or you could read Ed Gorman's Sam McCain series.  Gorman has something that that MacDonald didn't: perspective.  Gorman's had time to think about what happened and to reflect on it for a good many  years.  And that's just one thing that makes this series so interesting.   There are plenty of other things, too.

Riders on the Storm (all the books except the first in the series take their titles from songs popular at the time) is set in 1971.  At the end of the previous book (Bad Moon Rising), McCain has been drafted and appears likely to be shipped off to Vietnam.  That doesn't happen.  He's in a terrible car crash in boot camp and then is hospitalized for a long time.  He's mostly recovered now, and sure enough, he gets involved in another murder investigation.  His friend Will Cullen, a returned vet, is accused of the murder of a political candidate, Steve Donovan, another vet.   Donovan's a war hawk; Cullen's a member of an anti-war veteran's group and has been severely beaten by Donovan for that reason.  It's no surprise that Cullen is the primary suspect.  He's just about catatonic, however, and isn't any help in the investigation that McCain undertakes.

Pretty much the whole city of Black River Falls believes that Cullen is guilty.  The police chief surely seems to.  Not many people want McCain to find out if Cullen is innocent.  They'd be happy to see him convicted.

As usual in Gorman's books, the characters are a lot more complex than they first appear.  As soon as you think you know them, you find out that you don't.  People are never simple black-or-white creations.  They're complex mixtures who will leave you thinking about them when you lay the book aside.  Also as usual, the writing is clear and clean and sharp with astute observations about the times, the politics of the era, and human nature.  It's enough to make you envious if you're a writer and prone to that sort of thing.  Not that I am, of course.

When I read Bad Moon Rising, I thought it would be the last book in the series.  I was really glad to discover that it wasn't, and I hope there will be many more to come.  This as an excellent series, and I highly recommend all the books in it, including this one.


Aubrey Hamilton said...

Thanks for the GREAT news! I thought the storyline had ended with the last book. It is one of my favorite series: I have all of them in hard back. I will order this new title tonight.

mybillcrider said...

Don't know if it's been released yet, but you can certainly order it in advance.