Book Review & Excerpt: Right Place, Wrong Time
For anyone who is a fan of mystery books and detective novels, Right Place, Wrong Time by indie author Joe Hamilton, is an absolute must to read. Hamilton’s strong, distinct writing style is evident right from the opening scene, when diminutive P.I. Gabriel Ross finds the bullet-ridden trunk of a Chevrolet Caprice on the beach.
The first of a light-hearted crime fiction series set in Biloxi, Mississippi in the 1970s, it’s the origin story of the Eye on You Detective Agency. And what’s better than an origin story?
Hamilton has a knack for creating and peppering this fascinating setting with memorable characters. To say that Gabe is a fish out of water is an understatement. This detective is a sleuth as unique as Hamilton’s refreshing writing style, which is laced with humor and the unexpected. Knowing that many of the plots are loosely based on real events of the time, creates an extra level of fascination.
For a great, quick, summer’s read, give Joe Hamilton’s Eye on You detective series a try. Highly entertaining. Read on for an excerpt of,
Right Place, Wrong Time
by Joe Hamilton
May 13, 1979
Two-thirty in the morning, and it was already hot and humid. Or, as they say down here, hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell. The beach was deserted. Even the bonfires, so popular with pot-smoking teens, had been put out. I had the feeling of being watched. Maybe it was the pelicans. A squadron of them was perched on the railing, making a hah-hah-hah sound as they looked down at me in judgment. Tall parking lights illuminated a solitary car in the lot.
It was a blue Chevrolet Caprice, exactly as expected. A sense of foreboding came over me. It had to be some kind of trap. If I were smart, I’d get back in the truck and make them chase me. But I guess I’m not that smart, or maybe I just wanted to see this through. Like a kid at Christmas, I wanted the present I’d been promised.
The first clue was the irregular pattern of bullet holes in the trunk. The second was the clinging, smothering smell of whatever was in the trunk, that went up my nostrils and threatened to strangle me. I tried the driver’s door and found it unlocked. The car was empty – empty, that is, if you didn’t count the revolver sitting on the driver’s seat. Opening the door, I held up the gun using a pencil in the barrel, something I remembered seeing on Kojak. I smelled the gun and examined the barrel for copper and lead fouling. It had been fired recently.
I sat in the driver’s seat and checked out the glove box. Nothing. I let out a sigh, trying to summon the nerve to check out the trunk. Before I could move, I heard sirens. Three deputy sheriff cruisers appeared like an Indian war party in the Caprice’s side mirror. That is, if Indian war parties had flashing lights and sirens.
May 1st, 1979
13 days earlier
My name is Gabriel Ross, and as usual, I was running late for a client meeting, prompting a mad dash for the elevator. I yelled for someone to hold the door. A pimply kid of about sixteen was standing next to the panel, chuckling at my predicament. I asked him to press the 7th floor button, and just to irritate me, he pressed #6. I huffed in frustration, reached over a couple of people, and pressed the correct floor.
The elevator was poorly maintained. The fan had long quit the job. The carpet was threadbare – its color faded away to nothing. One bulb flickered on and off, in its last throes, ,working hard to illuminate the tiny elevator. The effect was to illuminate my fellow passengers in an on-again, off-again pattern. A scratchy version of Barry Manilow’s “At the Copa” crawled out of the ancient speakers. Like some sick joke, the speakers only ever played “At the Copa” over and over again.
As the elevator started to move, everyone looked up at the floor indicator, no doubt praying to the God of Elevators that it would make it to their floor. I made a mental note to talk to my partner about relocating our struggling detective agency to better premises. The elevator made a clunking sound, signaling its slow and labored climb.
I decided to buck the trend and looked down. As the lights flashed on and off, I saw a selection of loafers and dress shoes, sandals, and a pair of Winnie-the-Pooh bedroom slippers. A little girl wore the latter – she was no more than four, playing peek-a-boo with me, behind her mother’s tree trunk of a leg. I wondered whether playing peek-a-boo with a little girl this early on a Monday morning was a good omen. I also spied a pair of red ladies pumps, the kind with stiletto heels. Further, the shoes were attached to beautiful legs, which were attached to…a fine-looking Asian brunette, wearing a tight-fitting red dress that hugged her body like a Ferrari on a coastal highway. I wonder what a dish like her is doing in this dump. As if reading my thoughts, she turned and eyed me suspiciously. We made eye contact. I smiled – she looked away in disgust.
The elevator climbed past the 6th floor. Everyone had exited, leaving just doll face and myself. I found this to be a bit odd since the 7th floor was the top of the building. The only other room – a broom closet Larry the super liked to call his office. My mind scrambled, trying to remember the client I was scheduled to meet. The elevator finally creaked to a stop on seven. I looked over and said with my most suave, gentlemanly tone, “After you, Mrs. Cooper.”
I made a show of holding the elevator door for her. She was standing at the rear of the elevator, eyeing me suspiciously. While we looked at each other, the doors repeatedly tried to close. Open-close-open-close. Finally, an alarm sounded. Embarrassed, I retreated down the hall to my office. I looked back and saw her walking towards me down the hall. She had a signature walk, feline and graceful. Her stride measured; one stiletto placed delicately in front of the other, like a prowling tigress stalking her prey. Behind her glasses, her eyes met mine.
“What are you looking at?” she challenged, interrupting my thoughts. After mumbling something unintelligible, she hit me with a triplex of questions. “Are you a pervert? how did you know my name? Do you work for Gabriel Ross, the private detective?”
Taken aback for a brief moment, I calmly extended my hand, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Cooper – my name is Gabriel Ross. I own the Eye on You Detective Agency. As for how I know your name, I saw a Caddy parked in the lot as I drove in. The personalized plates read ‘I Cuff Em.’ I put two and two together once I remembered seeing your picture in the local rag last week.”
She tentatively allowed me to shake her hand, which was small and dainty, her grip limp like an uprooted weed. “Well, you’re smarter than you look,” she said dismissively.
“Uh, thanks.” I unlocked the door, flicking on the lights. The small office was devoid of unnecessary things like a waiting room, secretaries, clients, coffee, diplomas… My silent partner Ben O’Shea and I rented this space about three months ago, and let’s say business was as slow as a hot summer day in Biloxi, or as they pronounced it down here, Buh-Lukh-See.
“Couldn’t find a smaller office?” I got a whiff of her perfume – Eau de Sarcasm.
“I’m currently negotiating for a much larger space in the new Drayton Tower.” I lied. “Plus, my job is to be out there, digging up clues and, you know, stuff. People don’t pay me to sit around.”
Right Place, Wrong Time is available on Amazon. Visit the author’s website at JoeHamilton.ca, where you can find out more about him and the other books in the Eye on You Detective Agency series (10 so far, and more on the way). You can also check out other reviews of his works at Goodreads Books by Joe Hamilton, and leave a review of your own.