Monday, March 11, 2024

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: The Big Lie by Gabriel Valjan

So what is it about Boston that so many great crime fiction series are set there? Carlotta Carlyle encounters lawbreakers while she drives her taxi and Jane Ryland and Kent Murdock seem to only report on crime scenes. John Francis Cuddy, Spenser, Jeff DiMarco, Jane Rizzoli, Tom Bethany, Max Bittersohn, and Angela Matelli all investigate an assortment of felonies in their respective Boston neighborhoods, while Brady Coyne provides legal legerdemain to Bostonian blue bloods. And that’s just a few of the mystery and thriller series about the historic city, which seems to be caught in a permanent crime wave. We can add to the list Shane Cleary, whose fifth adventure by Gabriel Valjan will be released by Level Best Books on March 12th.

Jimmy B, a psychopathic criminal who terrorized South Boston, appeared at Shane’s door, which boded ill for Shane. Instead, Shane was stunned to learn that Jimmy wanted him to find his black poodle, which was missing. Shane never figured Jimmy as an animal lover but since no one says no to Jimmy and lives, Shane agreed and took some notes.

He barely ended that interview when Tony Two-Times, one of the Boston Mafia, dropped in to request assistance for his niece who needs a Latin tutor. Only he wants Shane’s girlfriend Bonnie to help, as his strict Italian mother will not allow her granddaughter to interact with men outside the family.

Then Bonnie wants Shane’s help with a pro bono case in which a young black teenager is being unfairly charged with felony robbery. Bonnie’s law firm expects her to plead the young man to whatever sentence she can negotiate and close the case fast, and she is convinced he is being railroaded.

All in all, Shane has a lot on his plate. He navigates the racial and ethnic divisions of the metropolis carefully while coping with career criminals of all stripes and varying degrees of sanity. Jimmy B in particular is a scary guy with a surprising empathy when it comes to his dog. Shane himself is a cat person, which makes him my instant friend.

I found myself immediately immersed in Shane’s world. The energetic narrative is flecked with bits of Boston history. With multiple threads and a large cast of players, it could be easy to lose track of details but Valjan ties each story line up neatly at the end. His work to exculpate the wrongly accused teenager was notably slick. The ending sets up a new story arc for Shane’s next books.

Recommended especially for readers of private investigator series and fans of Boston-based books.


·         Publisher: Level Best - Historia (March 12, 2024)

·         Language: English

·         Paperback: 192 pages

·         ISBN-10: 1685125301

·         ISBN-13: 978-1685125301


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Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2024


Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

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