3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 1996
Gar Anthony Haywood's It's Not a Pretty Sight is a gritty story that takes place on the streets of South Central Los Angeles. They are, indeed, not a pretty sight. In addition to the mystery, Haywood portrays the tragedy of life, sometimes the hopelessness and certainly the pain. But he also reveals the good that can survive amidst evil and death and pain, the roses that grow among the most robust of weeds. Aaron Gunner, p.i., seeker after the truth, learns that Nina Hillman has been killed and the police are looking for her estranged husband, Michael Pearson. Gunner's reaction is dictated by the past. He has never been able to forget an abused woman he chose not to help who was found dead the next day, killed by her abuser. Gunner blamed himself for her death. Also ten years ago, Gunner had been planning to marry Nina, but broke it off just three months before the wedding. Again he blames himself a little for her death. So he determines that he will avenge her death and, when Michael Pearson attacks him, he fires back and gravely wounds him. But Pearson insists that he did not kill Nina and gives Gunner his alibi. Gunner, alone of everyone who knew Nina, began to doubt Pearson's guilt. So he initiated a one-man crusade to discover who was guilty. On his quest he learns about abuse, why men hit on women and why women often do not leave these men. He also discovers relationships which sometimes fester and turn sour. One by one all the people who had reason to hate Nina are exposed and then cleared. The loner continues to search for justice and truth until he finds them. Gunner is a complex and somewhat enigmatic man who does seem to be first cousin to Shane and all the other cowboys who rode into town at high noon. The bit players are well developed and memorable as well. The setting is authentic, from the barber shop where Gunner has his "office" to the bar where he drinks when he is depressed. The only quarrel I had with this book was the solution to the murder; I felt Haywood reached a bit to select the murderer. However, I did not catch the clues that he had dropped so lightly and so delicately. I went back and looked; they were all there. If you enjoy tough p.i.'s and mean streets and straight-forward stories, this is a book you will savor. I found the character of Gunner redeeming and ethical, a man who supersedes his environment and typifies all the virtues and vices by which the human animal survives
on March 16, 2014
I came to this novel after reading, a novel in the author’s other series, “The Joe and Dottie Loudermilk” series. I like mysteries and was NOT disappointed by this one. The author is able to provide the back-story of all characters in a non-cumbersome fashion. This allows us (the readers) to understand and appreciate the interactions between Aaron Gunner and those around him. Along with solving a mystery, we also get to meet, form opinions, and peek into the lives of a whole group of people; and isn’t that we read mysteries (:
on June 1, 2015
While the top commenter on this site writes truth he left out the fact that none of the characters are likable, including the PI. I read 32% and just couldn't continue. Gritty? That is one way to put it - I just felt like I needed to take a shower - more like scummy. This is not my world and I don't like it, don't like to even think it exists.