An Engaging Chandleresque Romp Through Sleazy Street.

Our hero, Professor Mark Paris, is a man who had been pretty aimless since the death of his wife. He likes fine food, fine wine, gambling large sums, and to have the desirable Margot on his arm. A wealthy man, he can afford to live at his ease. And, for the most part, he does.

But, although something of an idle man-about-town, when prodded, the Prof can be stirred out of his lethargy sufficiently to take on the role of part-time private investigator (unlicensed) when the fates or fancy moves him. He is surprisingly successful as a PI and has gained something of a reputation as a man with a good brain who is able to fight for justice when the police seem happy to let things lie.

So, when a sometime acquaintance found a dead prostitute in his bed, his protestations of innocence in the hooker’s murder drew a reluctant Prof into action to check out the sleazy side of the street on his friend’s behalf.

But his dilettante efforts proved insufficient to prevent the next death, that of his friend.

Since his friend no longer required his services, the Prof next took on the case of the madam of a high-class brothel. The madam told the Prof that she feared for her business as first one, then another of her part-time ‘ladies of the night’ had been persuaded into premature retirement after being badly beaten. She asked the Prof to find out who was behind these vicious attacks.

Soon, the Prof was engaged in a high-end game of intrigue where nothing was quite what it seemed. But the threats to both the Prof and his girlfriend, the delectable Margot, were real enough. Not a man to crumple under physical danger, the Prof ignored the threats and continued his investigation. Yet, even though he sought help and information from a mostly useless network of acquaintances who supposedly had their ears to the ground, he was no nearer to finding out who was responsible for beatings that had now escalated into further murders.

The attacks on the hookers continued. The bodies were starting to pile up in a most inconvenient manner for the Prof, especially as he hadn’t troubled to tell the police what was happening.

Then he got lucky; the murderer proved all too human and made a small, but fateful miscalculation. The ever-astute Prof was quick to pounce on this first indicator of guilt.

And in a confrontation with the murderer, he put his life on the line with the nonchalance of a man who felt he had little to bind him to the human existence.

In the Prof, the author has created an engaging, all too believable, character who is more than capable of supporting a series.

I thoroughly enjoyed Subtraction and look forward to more of the same. Five stars.

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