It’s no secret I like this guy. He knocked his first novel, They Tell Me I’m a Bad Guy, (a post-modern sci-fi-ish, end-of-the-world thriller with cool characters and plenty of violence) out of the park. This time around, Harless trains both barrels on a genre-blending crime novel that delivers the goods in Blood Copper, Roaring Lead.
Horace Freem is as gritty as they come. A Chicago cop turned P.I. in prohibition era Chicago, Freem is hired by a family with money to burn to find its missing son. The trail of Thomas Hendricks Jr. goes cold in Nevada where Freem, a city cop out of his element, has to rely on his wits and brute strength, to deal with a host of western bad guys. Freem’s take-no-guff attitude doesn’t serve him well with the desert-hardened souls of the west, but with the help of the likable-yet-dangerous Sam Penny, he tracks down every lead to find Hendricks, his fabled copper mine, but what of the family’s $45,000?
And who the hell offed Hendricks? In a place where everyone is a suspect with motive and opportunity, Harless does a great job keeping all the balls in the air, and Freem on his toes until the very end.
In a genre meld in which one could easily overpower the other, Harless blends both western and dark detective novel into one cohesive story that is both true detective, and true western. It keeps you guessing until the end, and it’s fun to boot.
If you’re a fan of either genre, this is a novel that will make you a fan of the other.