Sometimes you run across a book that defies classification. Is it a novel? Is it a short story collection? In this respect we’re in a quandary about The Black Moon. On the other hand, this collective novel is definitely a
The premise is that there is a collective work of art—five paintings that are actually one work of art. The “Ladies in the Cathedral” collection is stolen from a post-WWII Italian museum that was guarded by three
Enter five writers with five different private investigators. Most are ex-cops. Two are the surviving guards from the Italian museum.
In this collection/novel you’ll find five different approaches to the P.I. novel. Robert Randisi expertly introduces and resolves the mystery telling the story through the voice of Salvatore Carlucci. Carlucci enlists the help of his old co-guard Ralph Parnell (written with the humor and flair of P.I. great Ed Gorman),
Philbrick is the only one of the authors that I had been (prior to this reading) unfamiliar with, but I discovered that he showed himself adept at telling a good mystery. I must admit that I was most disappointed with the segment by one of my favorite authors, L. J. Washburn. It was her name on the cover that drew my attention to the collection. Even with the disjointed portion by Washburn (she needed more pages to develop the story, it seemed), the overall outcome was a surprisingly enjoyable encounter. Even though each author chose a different style (from hardboiled, to edgy modern) with their respective private eyes, the story flowed.
This is not the first (nor the last) attempt at the collective mystery, but it is an excellent foray into team project writing. Well worth your while if you can find it on a used bookstore shelf.
Three and one-half stars.