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Bright Futures: A Lew Fonesca Mystery (Lew Fonesca Novels) Hardcover – January 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. At the start of the superb sixth Lew Fonesca hard-boiled whodunit (after 2006s Always Say Goodbye) from MWA Grand Master Kaminsky, 17-year-old Greg Lagerman, a student at a school for the gifted, hires Fonesca, whos been working as a process server in Sarasota, Fla., since losing his wife to a hit-and-run driver in Chicago, to exonerate a friend, 17-year-old Ronnie Graell. Graell stands accused of bludgeoning to death an eccentric wealthy politician whose most recent crusade was against a college financial-aid program. Given that the bloodstained suspect was found next to the corpse, Fonesca has his work cut out for him. The gumshoes initial probes soon place him in the crosshairs of an unknown assailant. Kaminsky provides enough twists and turns to keep most readers guessing, but the books power comes from the compelling portrayal of Fonseca, who still suffers emotionally from his wife's death, but continues to strive to move forward. (Jan.)
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The important thing to know about Lew Fonesca, one of Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Kaminsky’s series characters, is that he is a depressive detective who drove as far south as his car could make it four years ago, after his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Chicago. Since arriving in Sarasota, Florida (five novels ago), Fonesca has worked as a process server specializing in finding people. Like all depressives, Fonesca is hard to get and keep going, a major flaw in the series. And he doesn’t seek business—it literally shows up on his doorstep, like his wife’s killer who inexplicably now sleeps on his office floor. This latest episode centers on two high-school kids who ask Fonesca to look into the murder of a local rich guy; one of their friends has been charged. The plot, like Fonesca, works by fits and starts, with plenty of strained dialogue and odd characterization. For commited readers of the series only. --Connie Fletcher
Top customer reviews
Lew lost his beloved wife four years ago in a hit and run auto accident in Chicago and grief-stricken, drove as far south as his car would handle, landing in Sarasota, Florida where he began a meager existence as a process server--a person who finds people, even criminals. In those four years of grief and depression, Lew has met and surrounded himself with some endearing support characters including Ames McKinney, a tough old bird who partners with Lew, Sally Porovsky, his emerging new love interest who cannot seem to penetrate his wall of grief, Darrell Caton, a 14 year-old tough talking black youth who is Lew's "little brother", and Victor Woo, the Chinese man who was the driver of the car that killed Lew's wife and is now doing penance by sleeping on Lew's office floor. Each of these characters has a full back story as well as intriguing relationships with Lew that gets them entwined in his cases.
In "Bright Futures", Lew is visited and hired by two high school age students who want him to prove that their friend, Ronnie Gerall, is not the killer of Philip Horvecki, an unsavory mover and shaker, even though Ronnie was found covered in blood standing over the body. Within days, Lew is hired by 2 other family members for the same cause--before being subjected to threats, intimidation, and violence to drop the investigation. Soon, the reader is unsure of who does want him to find the truth about Ronnie Gerall since he gets mixed signals from everyone, including his various employers.
Lew's investigation is given substance and charm by the seemingly never-ending characters he encounters along the way including Jeff Augustine, a likeable former bit-part actor now serving as hired muscle, D. Elliot Corkle, a hilarious former infomercial king who happens to be the grandfather of Lew's client, and Blue Berrigan, a former writer and performer of children's songs who may also be something else entirely. Indeed, in "Bright Futures", not everyone is who or what they purport to be which just deepens the mystery. There are some red herrings and a few surprises along the way as this engaging mystery plods towards its satisfying resolution.
The pacing is slow, methodical, and workmanlike but the read is quick enough that it isn't a noticeable problem. Judging by "Bright Futures", the Fonesca series is more about solving mysteries and developing characters than it is about building suspense and providing thrills--which is, I suppose, as it should be in a "mystery" series.