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Liar's Dice by Gabriel Valjan

Shane Cleary is a force to be reckoned with. Former cop and ex-military turned P.I., he plays both sides of the law to get justice. Regardless of what’s thrown into his path – the frozen body of a friend, a mafia boss’ request for help, murdered cops, a drug turf war, a clash between law enforcement agencies – Cleary faces life-threatening situations with stoicism and humor. Adding contrast to his mysterious dark past and dangerous profession, his relationship with lawyer girlfriend Bonnie and his cat Delilah show a different side to Cleary.

A break from my usual mystery genre reads, this noir detective novel caught my attention with its cover and title and drew me in with the concept of a mafia/P.I. story. Not having read the first books in the series, I was immersed into Cleary’s world without knowing his background. Nonetheless, the book worked well as a stand-alone, with references to the protagonist’s backstory, and it left me wanting to read more.

Witty dialogue and clever euphemisms create a realistic picture of the criminal world Cleary navigates, and Valjan’s comments on historical, political, and cultural events bring 1970s Boston to life. The wealth of information and memory-jogging references about the ‘historical’ 1970’s elicits nostalgia for readers who lived through that period and provides a glimpse of recent history for younger readers.

An intricate plot full of twisty action begins with a bang and leads to an explosive conclusion that will leave you with questions, such as, so what’s next for Shane? If you love noir, you’ll love Shane Cleary and Valjan’s depiction of the criminal world of 70’s Boston.

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