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Life's Work

By (author) Jonathan Valin
Genres: Crime & mystery
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Century Hutchinson (A Division of Random House Group), London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Mysterious Press
Published: 1st Dec 1988
Dimensions: w 140mm h 220mm
Weight: 387g
ISBN-10: 0712619933
ISBN-13: 9780712619936
Barcode No: 9780712619936

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Kirkus US
Valin's Cincinnati-based mystery series - featuring the wise, low-key, wry voice of shamus Harry Stoner - has been among the most promising entries of the past decade. Here, however, Valin has lost some of his special tone and distinctive stance; and one hopes that Valin won't follow Robert B. Parker into the sort of decline and burnout that has accompanied the quest for a broader audience. (The publisher announces that "we are hopeful of moving Jonathan Valin - as we have done with Robert B. Parker - out of the genre and into the mainstream.") Indeed, two Parker-esque preoccupations - put-upon prostitutes, musings on "manhood" - dominate Stoner's sixth outing, as he's hired to locate missing all-pro footballer Billy Parks for the Cincinnati Cougars. Is Billy just playing hard-to-get during a contract renegotiation? Or is his disappearance linked to his propensity for roughing up women, to some possible drug problem? Stoner turns for intensive help to two primary sources: Billy's surly teammate Otto Bluerock; and hooker Laurel, a chum of Billy's pregnant girlfriend C. W. - who may have teamed up with a sleazy cop to entrap Billy on drug charges. And when C. W. is found horribly murdered, the search for Billy escalates - leading from a shady gym (heavy on steroids) to a rather excessive showdown/bloodbath. Throughout, in fact, there's a slightly overwrought quality here that's new - and unwelcome - in Valin's work: posturing, sentimental in its view of semi-noble victims Laurel, Billy, and Otto. Still, even if this is lesser Valin, short on genuine plot and unique Cincinnati flavorings, it's above-average by general standards - with crisp narration, sharp-edged portraits (except for elusive Billy), and fine-tuned dialogue. (Kirkus Reviews)