By: Andrew Diamond
Publisher: Stolen Time Press
Publication Date: July 21, 2023
Review Date: June 5, 2023
32 Minutes, book three in the Freddy Ferguson mystery series, is another strong entry from this author in the detective subgenre. In Freddy’s new case, he has to untangle seemingly unconnected crimes that put both himself and his co-worker girlfriend, Claire, in peril.
It starts when he’s called onto a missing person case. An executive officer of a troubled company has disappeared, and his boss, Leighton Graham—an imperious bully—demands that Freddy find the officer ASAP. Freddy knows the job is going to be a stinker the moment he meets Graham. (“What a waste this guy was,” Freddy thinks. “What a waste of humanity.”)
But Freddy is an honorable man—as well as a partner in a tiny private investigation agency that needs income—so he undertakes the job to the best of his ability. It leads him through a morass of drug dealings, mega-dollar investment fraud, and multiple murders.
Not surprisingly, he gets banged around on occasion. The brief but intense fight scenes come across realistically, supported by Freddy’s previous life as a professional boxer. Little of his backstory is provided in this volume, as it’s been established in the two previous books. The author gives readers who are new to the series enough details to understand who Freddy is, where he got his skills, and what motivates him. Deftly done.
The story continues the series’ “noir” tone of vintage hardboiled detective novels, which jangles interestingly against the modern setting. No date is specified, but the tools of our times abound as Freddy zips around the Washington, D.C., environs. He might appreciate email, Google Maps, the Internet, AI, and the electric cars that were mentioned, but except when necessary, he leaves others to use them. For himself, he opines, “These stupid phones are making us all brain-dead. You see those dystopian horror shows about the zombie apocalypse—Well we’re already there. Only it wasn’t some virus or toxin that rotted out our brains. It was the iPhone and the Android.”
The mix of old and new, of cynic and optimist, of action and reflection, makes Freddy a believable character and the mystery an intriguing poser. Chapters are short, presenting one scene or situation at a time, so that the story is easy to follow and digest, and keeps a steady pace forward.
Intermittently, Freddy shares some of his philosophy, or asks himself big questions. For example, when considering remarriage in terms of his career, he wonders: “How can you have a stable home life when you don’t even know when you’ll be home? When you have to travel at a moment’s notice, sometimes for days on end? How can you be calm and pleasant and fun to be around when your job is to root out liars and cheaters and thieves?”
As it happens, the woman he wants to marry is Claire, a prime candidate for understanding and accepting his way of life since they already work together. The resolution of their affair will likely occur in a later volume, assuming the author continues the series. Here’s to hoping he does!
Quill says: 32 Minutes is a tricky whodunit written in a brisk, straightforward style, peopled with plausible and quirky characters that readers can root for against deplorable bad guys.
For more information on 32 Minutes (Freddy Ferguson, Book 3) please visit the author's website at: adiamond.me/