Sun
Aug 26 2012 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Angel with a Bullet by M.C. Grant

Angel with a Bullet by M.C. GrantAngel with a Bullet by M.C. Grant is the first in a traditional mystery series featuring  journalist Dixie Flynn (available September 8, 2012).

As a reporter for San Francisco’s top alternative weekly, Dixie Flynn knows how to draw out a story. And she knows there is more behind the apparent suicide of her former lover, artist Diego Chino, than the police are letting on.  After being run down by a car in a Chinatown alley, Dixie is more determined than ever to dodge her editor and the SFPD long enough to piece together the truth.

Angel With a Bullet by M.C. Grant is the first novel in a series about wisecracking journalist Dixie Flynn. As Grant McKenzie, the author has also written the thrillers Switch and No Cry for Help. This new series looks to be more lighthearted, and harks back to some classic sub-genres of detective fiction.

Though the setting of Angel With a Bullet is contemporary, Dixie has a definite 1940s flair, and the novel’s tone includes elements of both noir detective stories and screwball film comedies, preferably ones shot in black and white. The modern element is in the actual mystery plot, which revolves around the current art world, and its commercialization of both art and artists with sometimes dangerous results. In this particular case, Dixie was once the lover of the victim, an apparent suicide, but she’s tough enough to be the first reporter on the scene.

Dixie’s first-person narration adds to the screwball film tone; she breezily tells the reader all about herself, with a hefty dose of both bravado and self-deprecation, as she goes about her daily business. I could easily have pictured her in a fedora and a trench coat, perhaps bantering with Humphrey Bogart.

I hang up and stare into the fishbowl that rests on top of the dresser facing the bed. Bubbles, the world’s oldest goldfish, having survived now for 92 days, turns her back to me in a disturbing show of indifference. I hit speed dial on the speakerphone and pull on some clothes. Fortunately, I keep my natural copper hair in a frenetic, just-got-out-of-bed-and-couldn’t-give-a-damn cut so that when I get out of bed, I look like I don’t give a damn.

. . . I am dressed for battle: notepad and pen tucked in the back pocket of slim-fitting jeans; a point-and-shoot camera and a digital voice recorder neatly stowed in the pockets of a vintage teabrown leather bomber. For emergencies, I also carry Lily: a small, pearl-handled switchblade that slips into a moleskin pocket sewn inside a pair of russet biker boots.

Dixie is also full of advice for her readers, both general life advice and advice more relevant to the police cases with which she becomes involved. Perhaps that’s a subtle nod to the often moralistic tone of noir detective novels?

Dixie’s Tips #3: Vomiting at a crime scene, although often times warranted, is not recommended. You only have to blow chunks once to be forever looked upon as a girly sidekick to the “real” journalists. If necessary, swallow.

And what fast-talking journalist would be complete without her long-suffering police contact? Frank Fury is one of several off-kilter secondary characters, another of whom is a seriously strange bar owner. Here’s an example of Dixie and Frank’s ongoing banter.

I still have one more call to make. The Hall of Justice line goes dead twice during call transfer before I finally connect with Frank.

 “Homicide. Fury here.”

“Do you know that if you added a second r to your name, you would be Detective Sergeant Furry?”

“You’re like one of those stray dogs, Dix. The kind that never goes away.”

“Shouldn’t have fed me.”

“I didn’t.”

“It must have been the ear rubs, then.”

“How would you like to play a game of catch off the Golden Gate?”

“Cruel, Frank. Very cruel.”

“What do you want?”

“Greek food, but I hate to eat alone.”

“Fine. One condition.”

“I’m not bringing my mother.”

Frank sighs. “We don’t talk about the stiff.”

“What stiff?”

Frank sighs again.

If you have a taste for vintage crime fiction, screwball comedies, and the lighter side of noir, Angel With a Bullet might be right up your alley.


See all our coverage of new releases with Criminal Element's Fresh Meat series.


Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories.  Her World War I-set Spice Brief, “Under Her Uniform,” is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress. Follow her on Twitter:  @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.

Read all posts by Victoria Janssen for Criminal Element.

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2 comments
Grant McKenzie
1. mckenzig
Thank you for the wonderful review, Victoria. It's a real treat when a reader "gets it." I'm so pleased you enjoyed Dixie's first outing (I'm busy wrapping up the sequel right now) and I'm sure M.C. will be pleased, too ;)
Clydia DeFreese
2. clydia
Sounds like something I would enjoy.
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