Ed Duncan, an attorney with expertise in insurance, is the author of five editions of Ohio Insurance Coverage. Pigeon-Blood Red is his first novel, and it’s a good one. He has crafted likable, unsavory, and pathetic characters and put them in motion in a story about a jewel heist: math professor and Civil War buff Evelyn, whose idea of a good beach read is The Killer Angels; Evelyn’s ne’er do well gambler husband Robert; loan shark Frank Litwak; Frank’s hitman Rico, who has a penchant for historical fiction and crime novels; Rico’s sidekick Jerry; and Paul, a blast from Evelyn’s past.
The action opens on the southeast corner of Chicago, and Duncan gets right to it on page one when Jerry discovers that he has lost a priceless ruby necklace with sixteen color-matched, pigeon-blood-red rubies that Frank had entrusted to him and Rico. After following up with two likely suspects, Jerry and Rico zero in on Robert. Robert, though, is on his way to Honolulu with Evelyn and her friend Rachel. Rico soon tracks him down and does what he does best: He hits. The survivors of Rico’s work return to Chicago, and it’s there that Duncan wraps the story.
Duncan is working on the second book of a projected trilogy. I can guess—and it’s only a guess—that Evelyn, Paul, Rico, and Jerry will show up again. Like Rico, I’ve read lots of crime novels, but except for Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series, I’ve read few with Black characters like those in in Pigeon-Blood Red: Evelyn, Robert, Paul, and several others. I look forward to reading Duncan’s next book in this series.
Reviewers note: I received a free copy of this book and reviewed it at the request of the author’s publicist.