Andy Straka's "A Killing Sky" is a private detective story loosely based upon headlines from what seems long ago, but is actually less than two years ago. Gary Condit is the real life doppleganger for fictional Virginia Congressman Tor Drummond, a man desperately seeking re-election despite a nasty sex scandal. When one of the Congressman's twin daughters disappears, the other hires Charlottesville Private Eye Frank Pavlicek to determine her wherabouts. Pavilcek is, of course, dubious at the beginning, and not surprisingly ends up with far more than he bargained for as he probes into the Congressman's sleazy life.
Anyone who reads a lot of private eye fiction will find plenty of familiarity in Straka's book. Pavilcek cracks wise and has a somewhat mysterious, tough-guy sidekick (his former partner from his days with the NYPD), an emotionally strong and supportive girlfriend and an eccentric hobby (he's a Falconeer). Straka's descriptions of Charlottesville (home of the University of Virginia) are so accurate and inviting that they could have been written by the Chamber of Commerce.
As for the mystery, even though some of the minor elements of the book are a bit cliche (the Chief of Police is a jerk, the Feds are the clumsy heavies, the Congressmen's Chief of Staff is cast right out of the movie "No Way Out"), you can forgive it because Straka's prose and storytelling are so fresh and immediate. For example, Pavilcek's relationship with his college age daughter, who sometimes helps him with his cases, never lapses into cheap sentimentality the way it could in a lesser writer's hands. The build up to the climax is well done and when it comes it is explosive and ultimately satisfying climax.
Overall, an outstanding work of private eye fiction from a recently bygone era that I'm sure we all wish could return to.