After two years of hard work for Vera Van Alst without a break, in The Hammett Hex by Victoria Abbott, Jordan Bingham takes a vacation with her boyfriend, soon-to-be Detective “Smiley” Tyler Decker, to visit San Francisco, the city of his favorite author, Dashiell Hammett. This coincides with his recent reconnection with his grandmother, whom his parents had cut out of their, and thus his own, lives when she remarried after having been widowed many years. Smiley is eager to introduce Jordan to his grandmother, but she is unprepared to be greeted as Decker’s fiance. Nice proposal, Smiley!
Gram happily welcomes Jordan into the family, and Jordan comes to adore this gutsy lady, but not all is wonderful in their lives. Jordan has two attempts made on her life, and then she comes back to their hotel to find her room trashed, with even the mattresses shredded. Later, she shows up at Gram’s house to find the door broken open, so she and Gram using their cunning between them to foil the attackers with guns. Life definitely is not boring on this vacation!
As with every book in this series, not only does the plot involve collecting books by the author named in the title of each book, the book itself takes on the flair of the author and incorporates themes common to that author in the story. I know almost by heart the authors of the first four books, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rex Stout, and Ngaio Marsh. But I have read only a few books by Hammett, so I am not as qualified to comment on those details in these books. However, I loved that Gram has a dog named Asta, the name of the terrier belonging to Nick and Nora Charles, whose movie adaptations involved one of the first dogs to have its own actual character. This book also gives off a bit darker sense than the earlier books, which fits with the noir genre of Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon, the book that inspired the famous film often credited as the first major movie considered film noir.
The book continues with Carla Mercer-Meyer as the narrator of this series, and I really felt as if I was hearing Jordan Bingham talk and not a reader.
The one thing I did miss from the other books in The Hammett Hex was the fun characters we made friends with in the first four books of the series. However, I enjoyed meeting new characters in this book, particularly Gram, who thrives on the danger and excitement that follow them. The book was a great read from start to finish, and I give it five stars.
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