Drink the Tea by Thomas Kaufman won the PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition. At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I found that I liked it very much as I continued reading.
Willis Gidney is a former foster child who is an expert liar and scam artist, but as an adolescent, his association with Shadrack Davies of the D.C. Police teaches him a thing or two about ethics. Gidney's homelessness and childhood traumas still haunt him, but he becomes a private investigator, albeit a struggling one.
When asked to find the daughter of a friend, he becomes involved in a much more serious and dangerous case than the ones to which he is accustomed. Gidney's back story is skillfully woven into his current adventures, and he becomes more intriguing with each page.
The characters are flawed, but engaging, and none more so than Gidney himself. As I mentioned, at first, I wasn't not too taken with the novel (a bit hard-boiled), but the development of Gidney's character and the humor lightened the flavor of the book as it progressed. As I read, the book wormed its way into my good graces, and I look for more from Mr. Kaufman and the rather unusual, but endearing Willis Gidney.
Fiction. Mystery/Crime. 2010. 294 pages.