The death in 2010 of Robert B. Parker, the Dean of American Crime Fiction, left a giant void in the hard-boiled detective mystery genre built by luminaries like Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. James Phoenix continues the tradition of the tough, wisecracking, private detective with Frame Up, the first in the Fenway Burke Mystery Series.
Fans of Robert Parker now have a new, street-smart Boston private eye with the Christian name of “Fenway,” who covers the same turf as Spencer, but whose home base is a rusting, steel-hulled, fifty-eight foot boat moored in Marblehead harbor about 10 miles north of Boston.
Fenway Burke is cast by Phoenix in the same blunt, masculine, first person style of so many great, hardboiled detective novels. The memorable characters in Frame Up include a hulk of a man named Tiny, who runs Boston’s largest bookie operation; a white-bearded lobsterman named Wiff, a fixture in Maddie’s Bar on Front Street in Marblehead; and Fenway’s love interest, Megan Griffin, a six-foot tall, statuesque Boston public defender.
The action is fast, the characters are memorable, and the unexpected is to be expected in this brilliantly conceived crime series that adds a new contender in the pantheon of great private eyes.