“The old you was a young slugger. Now you’re a veteran counterpuncher. You win by decisions instead of knockouts.” – Claudette Permice
When we last saw Eddie Perlmutter he had been dubbed the “Boca Knight” by the Boca Raton press for his successful handling of some messy matters involving both the Russian mafia and a group of neo-nazis. Former decorated Boston police officer or not, it was a pretty nifty showing for a 60 year old retiree with arthritic knuckles and two bum knees.
Boca Mournings, the second book in the Eddie Perlmutter series following Boca Knights, finds Eddie having capitalized on his minor celebrity by getting licensed and officially going into business as a private investigator. And while his phone has been ringing off the hook, the majority of the callers want Eddie to investigate spouses suspected of having affairs. Not exactly what the 34 year Boston PD vet had in mind.
Things soon heat up, however, and before Eddie knows it he’s juggling cases ranging from the merely curious (Who’s sabotaging the elevator at the Delray Vista condos?), to a personal mission (Why can’t his friend Sylvia remember anything before her twentieth birthday?), to the life-altering (What happened to the gay couple who disappeared from their tight-knit community?). Along the way he manages to shut down a cyber-criminal – and pick him up as an unofficial sidekick – and parlay the results of one investigation into a project to tackle the lack of adequate health care for a nearby low income community. Oh yeah, his prostate is also acting up.
The standout of the book, however, is a continuation of the neo-nazi story from Boca Knights. Randolph Buford, the young Aryan Army member responsible for several serious hate crimes, is scheduled for trial and not doing so well in jail while waiting. There was a time when Eddie, himself Jewish, would have liked nothing more than to see Randolph either rot in jail or be killed by his Aryan “brothers” for being a traitor. As Eddie’s girlfriend notes, however, Eddie seems to be mellowing, ever so slightly, with age. Accordingly, Eddie devises an alternative to trial and certain jail for Randolph that is both brilliant and jaw-dropping in its audaciousness.
Author Steve Forman tackles some incredibly serious issues by using wonderful imagery, as with Eddie’s impression of his eldery friend Sylvia’s encroaching dementia:
When Sylvia was Sylvia, she was wonderful: smiling, alert, and a pleasure to be with. When Sylvia was not Sylvia, her eyes were like shuttered windows in a haunted house. I imagined tiny devils inside her head, hacking away at her brain with pickaxes, destroying her mind, cell by cell, day by day.
and just enough humor to prevent them from becoming too overwhelming, as evidenced by a conversation Eddie has with a friend who’s had a heart attack and needs a heart transplant, but can’t have one because he’s too old and would not survive the surgery:
“How are you, Seymour?” I asked.
“I’m dying,” he said.
“People survive heart attacks all the time and live to a ripe old age.”
“I am a ripe old age, Eddie, ” Seymour said.
“You’ll be alright,” I encouraged him. “You’re a tough old bird.”
“The pterodactyl was a tough old bird and look what happened to him.”
Forman’s handling of Eddie’s interactions with Randolph is no less adept, and I can honestly say Boca Mournings brought the issue of anti-semitism and the question of whether people are really able to change into play in such a way that I was left thinking about Eddie and Randolph long after I’d finished the book. If you want to experience a slightly non-traditional private investigator series that will not only entertain you but also give you serious food for thought, take a trip to Boca Raton with Eddie Perlmutter.
Boca Mournings is available from Forge Books (ISBN: 978-0765359582).