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City of the Absent (Inspector Alastair Ransom Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2007
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About the Author
Robert W. Walker, a graduate of Northwestern University, is the author of thirty-six novels, including the acclaimed PSI Blue featuring FBI Psychic Rae Hiyakawa, the Instinct Series with FBI Medical Examiner Dr. Jessica Coran, and the Edge Series featuring Texas Cherokee Detective Lucas Stonecoat and psychiatrist Meredyth Sanger. He has also recently published the serialized thriller set in India entitled Fleshwar on Amazon.com\shorts. Robert was born in Corinth, Mississippi; grew up in Chicago, Illinois; and currently resides in Chicago and Charleston, West Virginia. In between teaching, lecturing, and book touring, Rob is busy tackling his next two novels, City of the Absent and Deja Blue.
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The novel starts on the last night of the World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois. It is October 28, 1893 and the Mayor, Carter Harrison, has been murdered on his own front steps.
Inspector Ransom, a bear of a man with the tenacity and attitude of a bit bull, leaves his lover's bed to follow the police to the scene of the murder. His lover is Jane Francis aka Dr. James Tewes, a woman who must conceal her gender to function as a doctor in 1893 Chicago. She is a major player in this novels and almost losses her life.
The mayor is well liked by Ransom who would like to find the murder and administer his own brand of justice. Inspector Ransom's reputation for such method makes him feared by the criminal element, off which there are many, but it also proves to be his undoing.
Shortly after the major is murdered, two brothers kill a female Pinkerton agent who has been seeking information about missing persons. She was on the right track and was about to tie the two brothers back to a doctor who employed them to find cadavers for his medical school, however, the one brother is an enterprising business man who didn't bother waiting for death by natural causes. Now Ransom is trying to find her murderer but is ordered off by the Chief of Police.
Chief of Police, Nathan Kohler, has a long-standing feud with Inspector Ransom. You will have to read the first two novels in this series to get a better feel about their mutual dislikes
William Pinkerton, son of the famous founder of the Pinkerton Agency, is working with Chief Kohler and it appears that they are after Ransom and are trying to conceal information. Somebody high up in the government my be financing the medical school's heinous practices and Kohler may be covering for him.
A young street urchin and snitch for Ransom, is molested by a clergyman. The boy tells Ransom, who seeks this pervert and ... You will have to buy the novel to find out how that turns out.
I liked this book. I did not realize until I was a chapter or two into the story that this is the third installment of Inspector Ransom series. I could follow it without a problem. I would have understood some references to past cases and actions had I read the books in order but it still made sense. I liked Ransom. He is aggressive but intelligent as he follows leads. I liked Jane who disguises herself as a male doctor and helps in Ransom's investigations.
The story was good. Having read THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Eric Larsen, I have an interest in stories set during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Mr. Walker stayed true to those times and the event. I was also yelling at Ransom because we readers know who the killer is and why from the beginning and Ransom is missing the killer while near the killer. For the record, Ransom paid no attention to me telling him who and why on the killings.
The only thing I hated (because this is a 5 star story but this is what makes it a 4) is the ending. I wanted to know if Ransom defeated his enemies and we are left with questions. There is no book 4. I hope a book 4 may come out one day because I have that enquiring mind that wants to know.