Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Long Time Returning

The Rap Sheet took a shot at serial-novel publishing, posting four installments of a historical thriller called Men’s Adventure, before the author of that work, longtime Chicago Tribune crime-fiction critic Dick Adler, announced that he was too ill to continue the project.

Now, though, comes Rob Kantner, the Michigan author of nine novels featuring Detroit private eye Ben Perkins, who, aside from Trouble Is What I Do, a 2005 collection of his Perkins short stories, hasn’t been heard from much since he published his last Ben Perkins novel, Concrete Hero, in 1994. By way of Bill Crider’s blog, we discovered that Kantner is posting weekly installments on his Web site of a previously unpublished suspense novel titled Clean Slate. This last Monday brought us Chapter 8, with more to come. Kantner’s write-up on Clean Slate reads:
It was meant to be a routine roust. But it got way out of hand.

For years, Debby Brody has made her living providing discreet personal services to the city’s power elite. But lately she’s made one of those people nervous. So a high-profile police bust was arranged, to send her the message to get gone and stay there. During the bust, certain documents from Brody’s files somehow fell into police hands--files that, the madam let it be known, named names.

Which created a media feeding-frenzy, and made certain judges, police commanders, and other officials even more nervous.

Into this explosive situation comes Mac McGladrey, a career pardon/parole officer, newly returned to his big-city job from a year-long leave. Hardly recovered from one of the most horrendous losses a person can endure, he wants only to reconnect with his many friends, resume his place in his large and diverse family, create a home, and--above all else--avoid trouble. In these ways the Navy vet plans to achieve for the first time a quiet life.

Instead, Mac involves himself in the suspicious death of Eddie Fant, a Vietnam War hero, chronic petty lawbreaker, and probationer. The trail, tricky and diverging, leads tantalizingly toward the city’s most powerful political and police figures--including Chief Judge Wayne Wildern, who has always been Mac’s patron and good and loyal friend.

Or so Mac believes. ...
In light of last week’s revelation that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias had been soliciting the services of an alleged Washington, D.C., prostitution service--a revelation that brought his resignation (even though Tobias claimed there was “no sex” involved when the “gals” came over “to give me a massage”)--this serial novel seems, suddenly, to have taken on a good deal of timeliness.

Kantner has also posted on his site all 80 chapters of a second suspenser called The Long Way Home. If you’re among the many readers who have missed seeing Kantner’s longer stuff in print, this is your chance to rediscover him as a writer.

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