A Nasty Piece of Work

Mysterious Book Report No. 144

by John Dwaine McKenna

When one of the best and most well-known living writers of espionage spy thrillers turns his hand to crime fiction, you bet we’re going to pay attention here at the Mysterious Book Report.  Robert Littell, author of blockbuster novels like The Company, Legends and The Stalin Epigram, has turned his hand to writing crime fiction and mysteries.  And he’s come up with a Chandler-esque Private Investigator named Lemuel Gunn to tell the tales.

In A Nasty Piece of Work, (Thomas Dunne Books/St Martins Press, $24.99, 259 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-02145-8) by Robert Littell, protagonist Lemuel Gunn is living in a trailer court in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  He’s an ex-CIA officer, just back from the battlefields of Afghanistan, who’s now trying to make it as a private investigator.  On a day when he’s busy drinking beer and cleaning out the septic system of his trailer, he gets his first client, a woman named Ornella Neppi.  She’s written a huge bond for a cocaine dealer named Emilia Gava, and she’s afraid he’s going to jump bond . . . in which case her uncle will lose $125,000 cash . . . because the property Ornella took as collateral turned out to be worthless.  Lemuel takes the case for $95 per day plus expenses, and sets out to find the elusive Emilio Gava in a hunt that takes all of his CIA skills when it goes across state lines . . . into the heart of the Nevada gaming industry.   The case gets murky, complex and dangerous as Gunn becomes infatuated and then romantically involved with the sexy Ornella Neppu.

Littell spins a fast-reading, fun novel you’ll enjoy at the beach, airport, or in your favorite easy chair at home.  Here’s hoping we’ll soon see more Lemuel Gunn novels, so reminiscent of perennial favorite Sam Spade.

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