Sam McCain

Created by Ed Gorman (1941-2016)

In the late fifties, rookie attorney SAM McCAIN finds himself in Black River Falls, Iowa, the "least successful lawyer" in a "a town that already had too many lawyers" so he agrees to work as an investigator for Esme Anne Whitney, a rich, eccentric wingding of a lady judge with some rather peculiar ideas about justice and the law.

That's the scenario outlined in the first book in this rewarding and addictive series, 1999's The Day The Music Died, which also revolves around Buddy Holly's final concert, before his fatal plane crash. This melding of then-current events, their effect on a small town and the call-outs to the era's rock songs as book titles boded well for what promised to be an intriguing new series -- or at least that's what I said at the time. Well, I'm happy to report it's an omen that has definitely come to pass.

The always affable Sam may be no tough guy, but he gets the job done, and Gorman's eye for detail and easy hand with characterisation, and the compassion he never fails to show for those characters make this series an always entertaining comfort read, even as the books have progressed from the smooth, easy-going comfort zone of the small town fifties into the decidedly more fractious sixties. Just a glance at titles of the sixties-set novels (Bad Moon Rising, Riders in the Storm) lets you know the times, they are a --well, you know what those times do.

Author Ed Gorman is a veteran mystery and western writer, editor and anthologist, who's also responsible for the excellent Jack Dwyer and Jack Walsh P.I. series, among others.


  • "Sam McCain is the kind of hero any small town could take to its heart."

-- Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review



  • "Wake Up, Little Suzie" (1997, Funny Bones)
  • "Heartbreaker" (March 2002, EQMM)
  • "The Santa Claus Murders" (2003, Crooks, Crimes, and Christmas).. Buy this book

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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