Remer
Created by Daniel Judson

In the preface of Shamus Award winner Judson's taut new noir, Voyeur (2010), hot-shot Manhattan P.I. REMER is an ex-Marine turned big city dick with a good rep and a clear conscience, living large off the proceeds of other people's marital transgressions. Then what seems like a routine case takes a very bad bounce, and Remer is left mentally shattered and physically mutilated.

Six years later, we meet him again. He's traded in his past for the quiet half-life of running a small liquor store in the sleepy resort town of Southampton on Long Island, retreating nightly to his tiny apartment to self-medicate himself with a dose of his special herbal "blend" -- a potent brew that combines ìskullcap, lavender, passionflower vine, larch and wormwood, the hallucinatory ingredient in absinthe.

But what kind of noir would this be (and make no mistake, kiddies -- this is noir) if the past stayed where we put it? Mia Ferrera, a troubled former lover (and ex-employee), has gone missing, and her wealthy mother wants Remer to track her down. Reluctantly, Remer agrees, still haunted by unresolved issues between Mia and himself, and urged on by a local police officer friend and her private investigator boyfriend ñ only to discover that much of what he thought he knew about his ex is wrong.

Noir fans may be reminded, as I was, of The Dark Corner, the 1946 B-flick where another fallen private eye who should have known better gets suckered in all over again. In fact, there's much here -- despite the thoroughly modern trappings of cellphones, computers and GPS monitoring devices -- to recall those classics noirs. Our toys may change, Judson seems to suggest, but human treachery, greed and violence remain constant. As do questions of how much we can ever really know anyone ñ even or perhaps especially those we love.

Unsure of whom he can trust, a battered and drugged Remer ("pain behind his eye and... ringing in his ears") finds himself on the run, backed into a dark corner of his own. It's all handled deftly and with admirable restraint, making this dark little story all the more potent and memorable, and the chill of the final scenes, set against the finely painted backdrop of the cold, desolate off-season limbo of a resort town, will linger long after the final page is read. Pay attention, kids. This is how it's done.

Author Daniel Judson, won the Shamus Award for The Poisoned Rose and was also nominated for The Bone Orchard and The Darkest Place.

NOVELS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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