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    Review of BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO by Ed Gorman


    Carroll & Graf, February 2004

    It's 1962, Russia and the U.S. are lurching toward war over the Cuban Missile Crisis, and detective/lawyer Sam McCain two strange offers in one day. First, a stranger offers him way too much money to deliver a package. Second, one of the Iowa town's rich men--a candidate for Governor, hires Sam to take a look in his bomb shelter. It turns out that the two offers are interconnected--the dead body in the bomb shelter is the woman Sam was supposed to deliver the package to. The police have no problems with the case--the candidate must have killed his mistress. But Sam knows that reality is often more complicated than the police let on.

    Sam mixes noire detective grit with a bit of sensitivity as he tries to track down other candidates for the murder--and there are plenty. The evil brother and the dead woman's other boyfriends are additional candidates. When he's not busy detecting, he tries to straighten out his own life. The woman he always loved is thinking about getting a divorce--and is interested in Sam for the first time. Adding to the complexity, the woman who was always in love with Sam is getting a divorce too--and she wants Sam too. Then there's the candidate's pretty daughter. It makes for an interesting life.

    Author Ed Gorman (see more reviews of mysteries by Gorman) brings the early 1960s to life in a convincing but sympathetic manner. Small-town bousterism, hypocritical morality, and narrow-minded snobbery are all there, but so is a certain warmth and caring--heightened by the impending end of the world that the Cuban crisis threatens.

    BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO mixes some nice twists with engaging characters and some insights into the world--pretty good for a short detective mystery. I recommend this one.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/02/04

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