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P.I.

Wiley's Lament and Wiley's Shuffle, Lono Waiwaiole, St. Martin's, $23.95 each.

Wiley's Lament by Lono Waiwaiole

It seems to me that the mystery field has tilted to the cozy side - there's a whole row of pastel covered, lipstick toting, recipe including books on our front table at the moment. Maybe it's to make up for that, that the un-cozy guy mysteries have become darker, grittier and more violent than ever before. Lono Waiwaiole's Wiley's Lament and Wiley's Shuffle are two recent examples of this neo-noir. Their main character Wiley is a former high school teacher in Portland, Oregon whose divorce and job burnout have caused him to fall from a middle class existence to life on the edge, ripping off drug dealers and card sharking. In the first book, Lament, it's the murder of his daughter that rouses him to righteous action and in Wiley's Shuffle by Lono Waiwaiole Shuffle, the second, he faces off with an insanely murderous pimp to save an unwilling prostitute.

The unrelievedly seedy settings of bars, strip joints, card rooms and motels are reminiscent of Scott Phillip's Ice Harvest, while the good/bad guys violent payback against the bad/bad guys will appeal to fans of John Connolly, Andrew Vachss and Wallace Stroby. So if all the pastel and chocolate chip cookies are getting on your nerves, revive your testosterone with Waiwaiole's big chunk of poker, sex and violence.

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