Slim Hardy Mysteries, Book 6 • Jack Benton • ★★★★★
The Slim Hardy mysteries is a hardboiled, almost noir-ish series set in more-or-less-present-day Britain. The books follow ex-soldier and current P.I. Slim Hardy as he solves cases and battles his inner demons, alcoholism being the most dangerous—and prominent.
In Eight Days, Slim finds himself hired by the parents of a teenaged girl who went missing for eight days and returned home, her mother says, a changed person. The kidnapper was never found.
It's an intriguing setup for a P.I., and one that leads to a page-turning plot and some memorable characters—the best of whom is Bernadette, a world-weary teenager and classmate of the kidnapped girl. (I hope you're planning to give Bernadette a spin-off series, Mr. Benton—she deserves it!)
Benton often writes with an unflinching eye about the benders Slim goes on—for staying on the wagon is not easy for him. It doesn't romanticize his alcoholism, but neither does it completely demonize it. The dialogue is smart and real, the action moves the reader along quickly, and the twists? The twists are the best kind—I didn't see them coming but in hindsight knew I should have.