City of Dark Corners

Written by Jon Talton
Review by Susan McDuffie

1933: Eugene Hammons departed the Phoenix police force under a dark cloud. Now he searches for missing persons as a P.I. One night a mysterious blonde is found dismembered by the railroad tracks in the Arizona desert, with Gene’s business card in her purse. Gene’s been set up. His brother, still on the force, gives Gene the business card and advises him to forget about the case; the girl supposedly fell from a train. Not satisfied with easy answers and despite being warned off, Gene investigates. Victoria Vasquez, a photographer and Gene’s girlfriend, assists him. The clues lead them to the underbelly of the rapidly growing young city of Phoenix, and Gene’s search there will keep you turning the pages past your bedtime.

All the characters in this well-written noir are multi-dimensional and satisfying, but the burgeoning city of Phoenix is one of the most vibrant. Talton intimately knows his history and brings 1933 Phoenix to life. The book is filled with historical figures, including a young Barry Goldwater, and Talton’s understanding of the city rings true on every page. Combined with a gripping plot, interesting characters, and compelling prose, you have a satisfying read. If you are a fan of noirs—or even if you’re not—you’ll enjoy this jaunt to the Depression-era Southwest. Recommended.