The prose is above average in this complex, ambitious novel, but the characters are too flat and the action is too episodic to hold a reader’s attention. Josie Braun, divorced mother of an eight-year old son, is city editor of the Jordan Daily News, a newspaper published in the Chicago suburbs in 1985. Josie and her colleague Ormand “Duke” Dukakis, a married reporter and recovering alcoholic with whom Josie had a brief affair the year before, investigate a murder discovered at the same time that veteran reporter Maggie Sheffield suffers a massive stroke. While conducting the investigation and helping to care for Maggie, Josie finds clues -- one being a woman’s distinctive red shoe -- that might solve the mysterious disappearance 30 years earlier of news editor Zelda Machinko, herself a crime investigator. As Josie learns more about Zelda, eventually even dreaming of her, Josie finds that the crimes of the present are linked to those of the past. Unfortunately, even though she appears in only a few flashback scenes, Zelda, with her refreshingly frank, sometimes cynical, and always snappy first-person narration, is a much more interesting character than the bland Josie, whose story is told in the third person. Moreover, Duke’s constant animal-centric exclamations such as “Walrus whoppers!” and “Pigeon paste!” are never as clever as the author seems to imagine, and quickly grow tiresome. One finishes this novel wishing that the author had told Zelda’s story instead of Josie’s, or at least given the scene-stealing Zelda equal time.
Obviously not a winning review, but not horrible either. In fact, as a reviewer myself, I have to agree that Zelda is definitely more punchy than Josie, though I'm not sure I'd want to build a series around her. So, there you have it friends. The other shoe.