Tuesday 26 July 2022




Would you help an old friend if it cost you happiness?

After years of turmoil, John Cutler’s life is on level ground. He’s reconnected with his daughter, started a business, and found new love.

Now, an old friend rolls into town with a simple agenda—prove the innocence of his ex-wife. She’s in jail for murdering her husband and needs someone like Cutler to find the true killer.

Helping will come at a steep price for Cutler. It means getting sideways with the local cops, crossing gang members, and upsetting his girlfriend.

Cutler’s willing to risk it all so an innocent woman can go free. Because that’s what friends do—even those who haven’t spoken to each other in years.

Hot on the heels of Cutler's Chase I read the next one, Cutler's Friend. Fair to say the series continues on an upward curve.

Events are set in the mid-2000s. Cutler is seeing Erika, a black waitress/hostess from the club he bounces part-time at. He also does a spot of private investigating, but business isn't exactly booming.

An old friend, Mike Davoli drops by. Mike was his patrol partner when he was a cop back in the Seattle days. They had a bit of a falling out, John left the force under a cloud and they kind of drifted apart. Mike is divorced but still carries a big torch for his ex-wife.

The aforementioned ex-wife, Tina is in a bit of a jam. Her new husband, a pro baseball player has been murdered and she's been arrested for it. Between Mike, Tina's attorney and Tina herself, Cutler is persuaded to do some investigating for the lawyer to try and establish some of the facts about the case.

An investigation with the cops having it as a slam dunk, a lying defendant, a lying friend, an unhappy marriage, infidelity, sauce for the goose, divorce on the cards, a secret boyfriend, racism, gang links, burglary, cop run-ins, and whole lot of other things going on.

Racism is an important undercurrent in the novel. We see both sides of the race coin. Cutler's girlfriend Erika is sensitive to how people address her and perceive her. Her mother and uncles suffered after being raised in the south in the 60s and the scars have been passed on. She's alert to Mike Davoli's prejudices and it causes friction in her relationship with John. How could he be friends with Davoli, knowing his views on black people? Cutler struggles to convince her that he isn't Mike, that Mike isn't the guy he used to be friends with. Mike is openly hostile to black people. He uses terms and names that are unacceptable. It's probably more out in the open present day, with his ex-wife having married a black professional athlete. He's no longer able to suppress and mask his true feelings. Cutler hates what Mike has become but struggles to convince Erika that he doesn't hold those views himself.

I liked the relationship dynamics in the book. I liked Cutler doing his thing, unconstrained by the boundaries that hold back the police, but then the police were never going to be looking too hard at alternative suspects. It's funny how he gets answers and evidence illegally which would help Tina's assertions of innocence, but then struggles to explain how he came about it and how it can be used in her defence.

Pace, setting, story, character, outcome - all ticks in the box. 

4.5 stars from 5

Cutler's Return, Cutler's Chase and the next Cutler's Cases have all been enjoyed.  

Read - April, 2022
Published - 2022
Page count - 276
Source - review copy from author
Format - Kindle


  1. That's an interesting way to approach a painful, difficult subject, Col. I do like the way Conway develops his characters over time, and Cutler's an example of that. I'll be interested to know where he goes next with this series.

    1. I liked that trope, Margot. I tadded to the story without taking anything away from the plot or the pacing.