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Three moon gifSt. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover), ISBN 0312266405
What makes a hard-boiled mystery hard-boiled? Perhaps it requires a hero/protagonist who resembles Humphrey Bogart or Phillip Marlowe. Or maybe a hard-boiled mystery can bear that name if the author includes a devilish dame, a set of gangsters and a strong and cynical detective.

Book: Terence Faherty, Raise the DevilUsually our hero can't keep a decent woman around. Or if he does show signs of pairing off, he ruins his chances by falling for the tall, blonde diva or sultry brunette who seeks out his services. Most likely our hero romances a bottle and falls into bed with whoever will have him.

Raise the Devil brings back Scott Elliott, WWII veteran and tough-guy operative for Hollywood Security, Inc. Elliott works for Marcus Pioline, producer and stereotypical head honcho of a movie production company. Pioline sends Elliott to rescue a young star (blonde, of course) held hostage in Las Vegas by notorious gangster John Remlinger.

With plenty of action and clichéd words, Elliot and gang successfully complete the mission and return blonde starlet Beverly Brooks to the film's location set, an isolated ranch in the Valley. Hell-bent on keeping his star in line and bringing in the movie on schedule, Pioline charges Scott Elliott to keep trouble where it belongs -- away from the movie and the ranch. But this proves to be impossible when Remlinger continues his attempts to reach Beverly.

All hell breaks loose when both Beverly and Pioline die in a fiery plane crash. Elliott discovers that someone probably rigged the plane to crash. With a ranch full of suspects and more problems occurring, it will take all the resources available to Elliott to discover the true killer before he -- or she -- kills again.

Book: Terence Faherty, The OrdainedI don't particularly like hard-boiled detective novels, so imagine my surprise when I met Faherty's hero, a man who not only fits the tough guy description but also could serve as the poster boy for a happy marriage. Married to Ella, the movie's scriptwriter, for many years, Elliott consistently makes loving husband noises and shows his true affection and respect for his wife -- in 1962, no less!

This book surprised me on many levels. Expecting standard hard-boiled fare, I steeled myself to slog through it. Instead, I got a well-written novel with a classy protagonist who acts like a tough guy should act. Elliott makes mistakes, but spends very little time in the bottle or in bed with some dame.

And Faherty doesn't stop there. The majority of his characters show depth and substance. Bravo! If only more detective novels were written with such well-rounded characters, perhaps we could happily destroy the stereotype. My recommendation -- if you like a good read and well-plotted mystery, pick up a copy of Raise the Devil.

Maria Y. Lima

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