Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Case of the Running Bag by Gene Poschmann

First Sentence:  I was just waking up.
Jonas Watcher's day isn't starting off well.  He's coming off the DTs, decides to give up drinking, wakes up on a dock in San Francisco, is immediately attacked and ends up in the water.  Tangled in a net along with him is a large bag whose contents include a business card, keys, money…and an old Navy Colt forty-four.  In a story of kidnapping, extortion, and murder, Watcher is reminiscent of the 1930's noir PIs of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.  
The opening is a bit awkward and contains redundancies, but the story picks up very quickly from there. 
Although Poschmann does not provide much initial backstory, Watcher and his history are developed as the story progresses and it soon becomes very clear as to why he is perfectly suited to the role into which he has stepped.  Although set in the 1930's, Watcher refreshingly has more of a contemporary sensibility in that the character has laid off liquor, prefers capability to looks in his receptionist, and develops a good relationship with the police lieutenant. 
It is interesting seeing how Watcher builds his team of informers.  Coining the term "the invisibles" is sadly true as it is the perfect description of how most people never really notice the cab driver, the hotel maid, or the many providing shoeshines. 
The San Francisco setting creates a strong sense of place and time.  However, one does tire of the various references to the "sisters of fate."   It would have been nice to have and Afterword or Author's Notes at the end providing a bit more information on some of the historical details such as the ability to do ballistic testing during this time, and the existence of military MPs in the 1930s.  

Despite there being a lot of coincidences; understandable in a book of fewer than 200 pages, the plot is well done, and the story holds one's attention.
"The Case of the Running Bag" is a quick read and an enjoyable first effort.  One may even consider reading more of the series.

THE CASE OF THE RUNNING BAG (Hist/PI-James Watcher-San Francisco-1930s) - Good
      Poschman, Gene – 1st of series
      Gene Poschman – 2016

1 comment:

  1. I do like San Francisco as a setting, L.J. And it's interesting the way that those 'invisible people' become an important part of the investigation. I'm glad you found a lot to like here.