Hunting Gold by Ann Aptaker is a beautifully described crime mystery set in the 1950s. It is the sixth book in the series, and you can read it standalone. But I’d recommend that you read them all. I just wish I could read the series again for the first time. The pleasure you get from a new book the wonder, the excitement and sometimes you must put it down because the emotion catches you.
At the start of the book, Cantor Gold is our smartly dressed hero dressed in a smart light grey silk suit with a black shirt (“dressy duds”) and dancing with a sweet blonde. Within moments, she has a cut forehead and blood on her lapel. Not for the first time, she’s arrested in a raid of a Lesbian nightspot in New York City. Her ‘shyster’ (lawyer) pays her bail and gets her free. Cantor gets him to pay everyone’s bail money and put on her tab, she can afford it. That really sets the scene.
Cantor lives as part of the criminal underworld. She’s a thief and smuggler of priceless art and antiquities and has many contacts along with a client list amongst the rich and famous. She spends a lot of time evading the police on one hand and some of the more unsavory villains on the other. It is all she’s known all her life, so she thinks nothing of it.
Vivienne Parkhurst Trent is one of Cantors clients. Cantor has provided her with countless pieces of art. She and Cantor had a dalliance one night, that they’ve never repeated, although Cantor would be willing. When Vivienne calls very late that night, she responds and finds Vivienne frightened following a burglary at her home. The stolen items are all art that Cantor has supplied. And so, the story begins.
Pros And My Favourite Parts
I love in this story that Sig Loreal the underworld crime boss, forces Cantor to work with a police sergeant Liam Adair, to solve the mystery. It is everything that both Cantor and Adair hate, and they provide a wonderfully complex set of interactions that really give the story extra spice.
I have always thought that when reading Aptakers books, you could be in a film. I had always understood that film noir was a thing. But who knew you can also have a noir story? Sorry if you realized already. Anyway, it is defined as crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings (Merriam-Webster). Yes, it fits Hunting Gold to a T and I believe Aptaker has once again created a book that beautifully fits that genre.
However, that undersells it. This is a film noir in a story. Everything is explained, pictured and yes, painted with words to put you in the time and place. It is so cleverly done, and the craft is exceptional. You can smell the river down at the pier, the dampness in the shed. You can smell Sig Loreal’s cigars and watch them burn. The cars and the streets and alleys. The bar where ‘the heavy smoke in the air is kind to the noontime crowd drinking their lunch, softening their hard-knocks faces a bit’. I think though that it’s the characters themselves that make the story. There is a richness to the cast, and surprises keep coming. Someone with a bit part can be a player and vice versa.
Cons And Heads Up
There are one or two murders, and the descriptions of the bodies are high level and I didn’t find them disturbing, but I thought I should mention it in case they are triggers for anyone.
I wait patiently for the next book in the series each time and have never been let down, Hunting Gold is no exception. I have now got to wait for another painting of 1950’s city life through the eyes on Cantor Gold wishing it could be soon. I read my review and it sounds a little sedate. I’m actually shouting – GET THIS BOOK.
Excerpt from Hunting Gold by Ann Aptaker
Tonight, though, my loyalty is to the bottle of Chivas on my lap. Good scotch has seen me through even tougher nights than this, nights of violence, nights of betrayal, and the worst night of all, a night of heartbreak, when the woman I loved more than life itself disappeared into the worst kind of hell. It’s a wound in my soul that will never heal. Best I can do is numb it with hefty dollops of booze. So I pour myself another slug, toast my loyalty to our ongoing relationship. I take a swallow, let the whiskey warm my insides, calm my anger about the Law and what its goons did tonight.
The phone rings. I let it ring, wait for the caller to give up, let ’em figure I’m not home. It’s after midnight, too late for clients to call, and I’m not in the mood to chatter with anyone anyway.
The ringing doesn’t stop. I’m tempted to throw the phone across the room or out the window and just get back to drinking in peace, get back to letting the scotch and the soothing balm of nicotine blot out this crummy night of vicious cops and crying women.
The phone keeps ringing. I finally tear out of my chair and answer the phone just to shut it up. My “Yeah?” is about as friendly as a jungle cat about to pounce on prey.
“Cantor?” I know the voice. It’s usually rich and silky but now sounds ragged, the voice of a woman whose night’s been as lousy as mine. “It’s Vivienne,” she says. “Can you come over? I’m terrified. And you should be too.”
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781612942377
Publisher: Bywater Books
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