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Alvis Curridge, called Dutch by his friends, used to work for the Fort Worth Sheriff's Department. Now that those days are behind him, he spends his time taking a few cases on the side, keeping his eye on whatever goes down in the streets of Cowtown, hanging with friends, listening to music, and drinking and swapping stories at Peechie Keen's Bar & Kanteen. His lifestyle ensures he has occasional encounters with his former boss, and none of them are very pleasant. One day Dutch is contacted by an old friend who needs help locating her missing son. Unfortunately, the case is much more complicated than a missing person's case: the young man was seen in the city at night, carrying a box with his dead baby inside. To make things worse, racism is rampant in 1953 and the authorities all seem to have a secret agenda. Between finding out what happened to the disappeared man, helping another man find an old record, and learning to cope with the twisted system currently in place, Dutch has his work cut out for him.
Dutch Curridge is classic hard boiled crime. The time period the narrative takes place in helps, but Bryant's research, knowledge of music, and his knack for writing in a style reminiscent of the best crime had to offer 50 years ago without it sounding like imitation are the elements that come together to make this a recommended read. Also, much like the master of southern flare who blurbed the novel, Bryant manages to infuse his settings, dialogue, and characters with the cadence and flavor of the south, which helps propel the story forward.
At its heart, Dutch Curridge is a balanced mixture of noir tropes used well and a mystery that serves as a vehicle to explore racism in the 1950s, an era that was full of change and opportunity but during which the nation was still struggling to overcome things like racism and sexism. Without sounding preachy, Bryant fills his story with a diverse cast of characters that are all well developed, have unique voices, and come from an array of backgrounds and socioeconomicWhen you read an author's work for the first time, it has to accomplish a lot of things. Chief among those is making you want to check out more of the author's work, and Bryant pulled that off with Dutch Curridge. If you like your crime fiction with a southern twang and the feel of a classic, give this one a try. standings. As a bonus, readers get a plethora of small stories (the one about how Dutch lost a toe is pretty damn good), a course in the music of the time, a good dose of violence, some heavy drinking, and a few gunshots.
When you read an author's work for the first time, it has to achieve a lot of things. Chief among those things is making you want to check out more of the author's work, and Bryant pulled that off with Dutch Curridge. If you like your noir with a southern twang and a classic feel, give this one a try.