On The Street Where You Die
By Al Stevens
Stanley Bentworth, private investigator. Buford Overbee, former employee of the mob, now in witness protection. Who’s blackmailing Overbee? That’s what he hires Bentworth to discover. However, when Bentworth finds the criminal, the man subsequently turns up dead. Who killed him? The police arrest Overbee and it’s up to Bentoworth to clear him. Meanwhile, Bentworth has other problems on his plate: dealing with his sister’s psychotic boyfriend, an Army intelligence man, and his on again off again girlfriend who keeps breaking his heart.
Recognize the plot? Of course you do. It’s a typical story of a hard drinking, chain smoking, world weary, cynical, private investigator from countless movies from the noir era to sixties Mitchum. You love them and so do I. It’s standard schtick with the added modern technology. But you know what? Sometimes, the good ol’ reliable is what you need. I was a bit disappointed in the endings of the murder case and the stalker boyfriend (I hoped for more punch), but otherwise this was a pretty decent story.
StanleyBentworth: Private investigator in Delbert Falls, Maryland. Former homicide investigator. Divorced. Wears a Mickey Mouse watch. Likes bourbon but swears to quit drinking. Smokes but keeps swearing to quit. Witty repartee. Named his gun Roscoe.
Buford Overbee: huge build but with a cultured voice. Former mob collections man, now a financier to the high profile people. No sense of humor. Smokes cigars. Divorced and remarried. Wealthy. Rides in a Rolls Royce. In Witness Protection. Likes to stay under the radar.
Willa: Stan’s secretary. Fifites, very thin, gray hair, wears square rimmed glasses. Efficient worker. Likes to razz Stan about his problems. Widow.
Rodney: Stan’s nephew. Computer whiz. Tall, gangly, hair is spiked and orange. Smokes marijuana.
And of course the cast of supporting characters and suspects. The sexy young wife. The belligerent daughter. The enigmatic lawyer. The servant. The detective’s former police partner. Bunny, the on/off girlfriend is very well portrayed. Standard fare for a story like this. However, this is not criticism and I’m not trashing the characters. They’re what you’d expect and Stevens delivers very nicely. I also liked Sanford and wanted to know more about him. Not much, just a little bit.
I loved Bentworth’s humor and wisecracking one liners. Most of the characters had individual voices and spoke like you’d expect them to. I especially liked Willa. When she’s introduced I saw her to be hard-nosed and unsympathetic and in ways she is. However, she also whips out the humor at times.
First person narrative from Stan’s POV. Very good wry/cynical humor. Some of Rodney’s electronic wizardry strays a bit into unbelievable as I would think the Witness Protection Program would be more secure than what is shown here and Stevens does not go into to much details about how Rodney finagles the cyberworld (although Rodney keeps wanting to explain). However, it’s not a major point of contention and doesn’t distract from the enjoyment of the story. There are several instances of profanity, a few of which were unnecessary, but again, nothing over the top. Ditto with a few misspells. As mentioned before, I don’t mind a good old fashioned type detective story. This was a very well written piece, good for a temporary escape into fiction. I wouldn’t mind reading another of Stevens’ mysteries and I hope Bentworth sticks around.