Death Bed by Stephen Greenleaf has the flavor of a Chandler novel and the credibility of a police report. If you like unending monologues about clothes, cats, chocolate, refried beans, gourmet coffee, or obscure musical instruments dating from the Rennaisance--save yourself the time. Do not read this book. Greenleaf's protagonist, John Marshall Tanner, a San Francisco PI, is primarily concerned with chasing down leads and getting to the bottom of things. The streets may at times get mean and gritty. Tanner may occasionally barge in where he is not welcomed like your dear Aunt Sally. He may ask difficult questions and sometimes insists on answers, even at the risk of speaking impolitely. The case in Death Bed contains at least a few echoes of Chandler's The Big Sleep. The client is a rich old gent who is literally on his death bed. The mystery revolves around the wayward son (rather than daughters), and whom the client wants found. Along the way we encounter a variety of credible characters, not the least of which is the Serpico-like reporter who loses himself for months at a time on the trails of his own investigations, and may have finally gone too far. Greenleaf's prose is smooth and craftsman-like and full of artful touches of metaphor and simile. There is a decided lack of emoting on the part of his PI, but in this hand-wringing, anxiety-laded, compassion-bloated epoch of amateurs masquerading as pros the absence comes as something of a relief.
good read. old book, a bit discolored.