Murder Straight Up, by Edward Gorman ISBN 0345338928
Four out of five stars
This murder story fits into the category of one that you read late at night and does not generate mental tension that will keep you from falling asleep. The murder is not one of blood and gore and there is not a major sequence of stalking/killing where there is a trail of violent deaths.
Jack Dwyer is a former cop that has turned to acting, nothing major, just small bit parts that puts his name on the screen when the credits are rolling. Even though he lives simply, Dwyer finds it necessary to maintain a part-time job as a security guard through an agency. When the story opens, he is on the job at a television station.
The local news is running live when he chases away a young man that has somehow found his way into the building. Almost at the same time, the handsome anchor keels over and dies in the middle of the newscast. The froth on his mouth leads to the suspicion of cyanide poisoning and that initial assessment is confirmed. Dwyer is blamed for the death and is told that he will lose his job unless he can determine who the murderer is.
Although he has some skills as a detective and actively pursues the case, Dwyer’s personal life is a shambles. He has relationships with several women, but all of them are generally dysfunctional. The reader is exposed to two general plot threads, the murder investigation within the hypercompetitive news anchor business and Dwyer’s struggling relationships with women.
Neither is terribly engaging, yet they are enough to keep you interested until the guilty parties are exposed. Not a great deal of tension, this is no thriller, just a solid murder mystery starring a man experiencing many difficulties.