THE BLOCKBUSTER THRILLER THAT BECAME THE HIT TV SERIES
"THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO"
It's the turbulent 1970s, a time of social upheaval. The generation gap has never seemed so wide and perilous, especially for veteran Santa Monica homicide detective Al Krug and his new partner, university-educated ex-surfer Casey Kellog, the youngest detective on the force. A woman's corpse is found floating in the bay with a law firm's business card, sealed in plastic, strung around her neck. Krug and Kellog have to solve the bizarre and gruesome murder... if they don't kill each other first.
"An expert thriller," St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Weston writes smoothly and uses a good deal of sharp dialogue," New York Times
"Hard-hitting and eminently readable," San Francisco Chronicle
Carolyn Weston wrote a three book series that became the basis for the hit 70’s The Streets of San Francisco TV show. I’ve come at the series ass-backwards. Susannah Screaming (1975) was read and reviewed earlier in the year – here. Poor, Poor Ophelia from 1972 was the opener. 1976’s Rouse the Demon was the last one she had published.
Poor, Poor Ophelia was an entertaining mystery and enjoyed – though slightly less than Susannah Screaming. I think if I had read them in the order they were originally published I would have a reverse reaction. Loving Ophelia and being slightly less satisfied with Susannah. The main reason is I think she’s guilty of repeating herself.
Same setting – which I do like anyway, so I didn’t have a problem with that. Early 70’s time frame in both which ticks a lot of boxes – no mobile phones, no super-fast computers and gadgets – meaning a lot of running around and leg-work and driving which enhances the feel of the location.
Our two detectives Krug and Kellog are a mismatched pair. Krug – think Karl Malden – aged, world-weary, hard-hearted and cynical. Kellog – a baby-faced Michael Douglas; young, idealistic, naïve, more trusting, more willing to accept a witness is telling the truth, than assuming he’s lying and with something to hide, or at least acknowledge than an untruth may be given for reasons other than guilt – eg….. embarrassment, fear of publicity and subsequent damage to a career.
Our case involves a dead girl (same as last time) and our person of interest in this case, is a young, smartly-dressed, trendy lawyer whose business card was found in our victim’s possession. David J. Farr - our lawyer, could be Kellog if Kellog had chosen the kind of career path his father had wanted for him instead of choosing the police force, and Krug dislikes him on sight.
Farr had a chance relationship with Holly Berry (our victim), which he endeavours to conceal from our detectives. Krug, with a hyper-sensitive nose for bull, immediately fancies him for the crime. Kellog isn’t as convinced and during the course of the book, takes a more pro-active involvement in the case. Chasing up other witnesses, pursuing other avenues, some of which become apparent the more Farr eventually reveals.
Farr himself, having accepted his involvement, and feeling guilt over having dismissed Holly and her fears for her personal safety and having unwittingly led the murderer to her door attempts to extricate himself from the matter, by giving the detectives her brother – someone who may hold the key to the case.
The dead girl’s doper brother has gone missing, a mysterious uncle who kept dropping by her digs, appears just as difficult to track down. Why did Holly have a big fat padlock fitted to her door recently? Was she really in fear of her life as Farr claims she admitted to him?
I did enjoy this one, though did have the sense of deja-vous. Krug fancies “A” for the murder. Kellog isn’t sure and remains open-minded. “A” meanwhile, reluctantly involves himself in the case, in a bid to get out from under, putting his life at risk in a bid to ensure his freedom from a false conviction. Events unfold. Climax approaches. Guilty party “B” is exposed, Krug has the blinkers removed from his eyes. “A” and Kellog escape danger and our pair close the case. Kellog and Krug reconcile.
I just kind of think, I maybe read the same book twice with a few obvious differences.
Still a 4 from 5 and I will be reading Rouse the Demon at some point.
Brash Books have re-issued these three Weston novels and if you like 70s crime and enjoyed the TV back in the day they are well worth checking out. Brash Books website is here.
A Net Galley – Brash Books read this one.
TracyK from Bitter, Tea and Mystery reviewed Susannah Screaming here.