Wednesday 8 July 2020



Introducing maverick Chicago private investigator Sam Kelson in the first of a hardhitting new crime noir series.

Sam Kelson is a PI like no other. As a consequence of being shot in the head while working undercover as a Chicago cop, he suffers from disinhibition: he cannot keep silent or tell lies when questioned. But truth be told - and Kelson always tells the truth - he still feels compelled to investigate and, despite the odds, he's good at his job.

Hired by Trina Felbanks to investigate her pharmacist brother, whom she suspects is dealing drugs, Kelson arrives at Felbanks' home to make a shocking discovery. Arrested on suspicion of murder, he makes an even more startling discovery concerning his client's identity. Kelson would appear to have been set up ... but by whom, and why?

As events spiral out of control and the body count rises, Kelson realizes he's made a dangerously powerful enemy. Will he survive long enough to discover who has targeted him - and what it is they want?

Michael Wiley, is a new-to-me author and one I've been wanting to try for a while. I thought I might as well start with his latest series featuring an ex-Chicago cop turned PI, Sam Kelson and Trouble in Mind.

Plus points..... 

I like a Chicago setting

I liked the back story of the main character, Sam Kelson...... his cop career, his marriage and his family and the incident which changed the course of his life..... a bullet to the brain. Fast forward and the career and marriage have ended and he's left with a daughter he sees regularly, a gig as a private investigator and a condition which means he is unable to tell a lie. Something that isn't always helpful when you've a growing and inquisitive daughter or if you're trying to investigate things and the witness you're talking to has questions of their own. He's still troubled by the shooting incident and worries that he was at fault for the incident which saw his assailant killed.

I quite liked the story. Man investigates client's brother and finds him dead and he's now in the frame for murder. Get out of frame, discover what's going on, all the while his client, who has an annoying habit of disappearing and reappearing keeps pointing him in directions which keep getting him further and further into difficulties with the police. Ergo more dead bodies.

I liked the author's writing style. I liked the injections of humor into the narrative, usually a result of Kelson's condition. There's a decent cast of supporting characters, with Kelson's friends and ex-wife, as well as a couple of cops he bumps heads with. The friction in the relationships are a recurring theme and add to the story. 

I enjoyed the length of the book, long enough to give time for character development and back story without dragging things out unnecessarily. And I was okay with the outcome.


The client annoyed me and Kelson continually dancing to her tune - ditto. After probably the second time of her leading him a dance, albeit she's being coerced or manipulated by whoever is out to get Kelson, I think any reasonable person would have told her to go and do one. I suppose Kelson's doggedness and damaged brain doesn't allow him that option.  I just think that if you head butt a wall and find it hurts, why would you do it again and again and again? 

More to like than dislike.
4 from 5

There's a second Kelson book Lucky Bones from Michael Wiley. One I would say I'm looking forward to reading soon, but I've already read it.

Read - June, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 228
Source - purchased copy
Format - hardback 


  1. I like a Chicago setting, too, Col. And Kelson does sound like an interesting character. There are some solid-sounding plot points and premise, too. But I know what you mean about how Kelson interacts with this client. I like it best when characters act in believable ways, and it pulls me out of the story when I start thinking, 'Would he really do that?' Still, this sounds like a solid read.

    1. More to like than dislike Margot and I think most books I read have minor niggles where I'm...tsk. I do like a Chicago setting as well.

  2. I like the premise. Is their really a condition like that? (Not being able to lie.)

    1. There's a condition called disinhibition, which does affect cognitive function and behaviour. I'm not sure if the inability to lie is part of it, or if the author has taken a bit of artistic licence and run with it.

      Wikipedia doesn't secifically mention lying in its summary, but other charaacteristics of Kelosn's behaviour ring true... In psychology, disinhibition is a lack of restraint manifested in disregard of social conventions, impulsivity, and poor risk assessment. Disinhibition affects motor, instinctual, emotional, cognitive, and perceptual aspects with signs and symptoms similar to the diagnostic criteria for mania.

    2. Col, thanks for the explanation. I could accept that and the rest of it sounds good. Right now it is too expensive here but I will put it on a list and wait until it is affordable.

    3. Hopefully you won't have to wait too long. I've recently read the second book in the series, so you might think the first would reduce in price?