Wednesday 10 June 2020



THE DAMP FEDORA introduces 1940's detective Nelle Callahan, gal gumshoe with gumption, with a case that struts its stuff like the breeze off a good Narragansett sail. Brisk. Brash. Knowing where the wind's coming from, and yet … wondering. Nelle's job? Cut through some slick con's shadow, lift a corner of chintz off the mist, let some truth shine in for the chippies and the chopper squad — you know — menfolk who measure themselves by how big their tommy guns really are.

In this outing, Nelle finds herself helping a damp fedora wearing Harry — who's not a Harry — Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, MLB pitcher Paul Katcher and her OSS handler-agent, none other than former White Sox catcher Moe Berg.

Praise for THE DAMP FEDORA …

"Original, distinctive, and quirky, there's something legendary about Kate's writing. 'Writing' doesn't fully describe the evocative prose, it sings off the page with the sultriness of a Hollywood starlet and raps with the cool of the Rat Pack. I can't decide if she carries her pen in a holster on her stockinged thigh or in a violin case alongside her Tommy gun." — Matt Hilton, author of the international bestseller Joe Hunter thrillers

A 40s set novella featuring a confident female PI, Nelle Callahan. The Damp Fedora is the opener in author Kate Pilarcik's Callahan series, though I've yet to uncover a follow on from this one.

Callahan juggles a few cases here....... help the mysterious new client recover a will, try and get sidelined baseball man, Eddie Waitkus's career back on track and then go off gallivanting to help the OSS on some overseas mission. (The last event remains a work in progress.)

I did enjoy this one. There's an intriguing blend of fact and fiction surrounding the narrative. Some featured characters and events might be better known to an American reader and student of baseball history and personalities, than to this UK reader. But it was fun checking out Eddie Waitkus on Wikipedia after reading this. Moe Berg I had heard of previously. Paul Katcher and the A.J. Reach sports company were others interesting features. I enjoyed how Pilarcik wove some of their histories into the story.

Callahan is bold and brassy, pretty fearless and quick witted. Her mouth runs a mile a minute and Pilarcik has captured the persona and lingo of the era perfectly. Or at least as I've seen it portrayed in the tough guy films of the era.

The resolution to one of her cases did seem to be a bit too reliant on coincidence to be fully convincing for this reader and the second issue seemed to require no investigating as such, just a word in someone's ear. That said there was enough about it for me to keep an eye out for future installments whenever they may drop.

I loved the setting and the mainly coffee shop back drop to most of the events. There's an interesting dynamic between Nelle and the owner, Albie. Albie almost seems like Nelle's guardian or protector. We also learn bits about her family history, something she doesn't spend too much time dwelling on.

4 from 5

Read - June, 2020
Published - 2016
Page count - 121
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle read on laptop


  1. You know, Col, this does appeal to me. It's not that I'm such devotee of baseball ('though I do enjoy the game and know a tiny bit about it). But I like stories where I can learn something. Besides, the time and place (I lived in Philadelphia for many years) and context interest me, too. Glad you enjoyed this.

    1. Margot, I hope you enjoy it if you do get around to reading it. I must admit I find baseball confusing, but I enjoyed the characters that appeared here.

  2. Lady Margot ~ Read it! Read it! (gently nudged, I assure you) . . . The fact that the fine fella who finds American baseball confusing hit the dynamics of this review "outta da park" is an honour. Simply and strongly, wordsmithers value those who traipse the trail they mark.

    Grace o' my Thanks from the shadows, good Sir Colman

    ~ Kate, absolutely