Drink the Tea: A Mystery by Thomas Kaufman
An award-winning debut mystery, set in Washington, D.C. How could I not check it out?
And, happily, I liked, liked, liked it.
First, I was reminded a bit of Dennis Lehane, which is always a good thing.
Drink the Tea is a first-person private eye novel, with a conflicted and quick-witted main character—Willis Gidney—whose dreadful childhood scarred and haunts him. His younger years provide a compelling back story, which is nicely woven into the main story line. (Well done, Mr. Kaufman—managing to keep the pace moving briskly along, while also giving us the main character’s background.)
So… the main story line: A jazz musician friend of Willis’s asks him to track down the daughter he never really knew. And very soon, all you-know-what breaks loose, because the daughter—whoever she is—turns out to be wrapped up in some shady business.
The only thing that struck me as weird is that I didn’t have a sense of the age of the narrator until partway through the book, when a year from his childhood was mentioned. I’d’ve thought the narrator was older than he turned out to be. Not sure what that was about. Maybe his old-fashioned first name threw me. (And there’s a whole story behind his name…)
Anyway, by midway through this book, a person really cannot help but adore Willis Gidney. He’s a good one. And I’ll be watching for his next appearance.
(Crap. That photo up there, intended to invoke noir, has a doggone Christmas tree stuck right in front of the Capitol dome. Kind of ruins the menace, don’t it?)