This is the third part of the “Frank Nitti” trilogy that kicked off the long series of books featuring Chicago PI Nate Heller. This time he has just returned from military service in the Battle of Guadalcanal, which took place just under a year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The feel of this book is different to the first two – more serious, more plot heavy. Nate is not the same upon his return from war – harder, aged. He is now 36 years old with an expanding business. His close friend Barney Ross, ex-World champion boxer, has packed in his gloves. Both are scarred by their war experiences.
The structure of this book is also different to those that came before. There are flashbacks and shifts back in time – not the straight-forward linear storytelling of the earlier books. For example, once we have the first Guadalcanal section we then go back to the late 1930s and some of Heller’s earlier cases. Off to Hollywood for a touch of glamour – things get very entangled and it seems like everyone wants a slice of Nate.
Of the three books in the trilogy, this is the one I like the best but also the one that I was most nervous about reading. I like the Heller of the first two books and was afraid that a war-scarred Nate would take the character too much into darker territory. In the end, the changes are subtle and lend additional depth to the main characters. This bodes well for future books, and I will be back for more.
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