Monday, March 22, 2010

Macaroon Madness and Why I Am Not a Private Investigator

First, last week's food section in Washington Post had an article about macaroons (and by macaroons I mean those chewy, meringue cookies with buttercream filling, not the chocolate-dipped coconut ones) ("Macaroons for Real People"). Shocked at the thought that I had been making macaroons for fake people this whole time, I read on, and I'm looking forward to making espresso macaroons with fudge filling soon. I don't actually think macaroons are difficult to make, but they require some special equipment and a bad macaroon recipe (and there are many out there) will scare most people off of making them for life.

What was that? Something about health care? No, I have no idea, I can't hear you over my THOUGHTS ABOUT MACAROONS GO AWAY THANK YOU.

Oh, and I'm not a private eye because I do not have a) a drinking problem b) an ex-wife I think of with equal parts regret and anger c) a resourceful teenage kid that I don't know well enough but is weirdly capable and has enough of my stubbornness to make me think, "man, I'd be mad but this kid is just so stubborn and plucky that I have to let them help me solve this crime! and d) a slew of colorful friends that work in bars that have seen better days and have names like "Sonny" and "Harv."

But this guy does!

NOT ONLY THAT, but Louis Klein is an ex-policeman, lives in the house where his mother met a violent end in a gritty, seen-better-times neighborhood in Philadelphia and his cop father was shot by a perp when he was a child, has a thing for his dead ex-partner's wife (a former high school flame who is VERY CONVENIENTLY married to a rich, violent, shady figure), and has promised her that he'll track down her missing daughter, who, like her mom, got tangled up with dangerous men.

DING DING DING you win the hard-boiled private eye sweepstakes and a trip to Acapulco! Lou bops around Philadelphia, handing out beatings to scuzzbuckets named stuff like Mazz and Freddy Mac, gets whacked over the head by bad guys in scummy upstairs massage parlors while digging for information, and still has time to make it over to Heshy's for a Reuben sandwich and talk about better days with the locals while trying to figure out his own complicated feelings for his partner's widow, Sarah Blackwell, and track down her rebellious daughter, Carol Anne.

Gilman isn't covering much (any?) new ground and his characters are straight out of central casting, but he does try to ratchet up the tension in the book's final pages with a couple of nasty revelations about family ties, and the dialogue is pretty snappy. You could do worse than pick this book up for a pleasant interlude (try reading it over a Reuben sandwich).

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