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Sayonaraville [Paperback]

Curt Colbert
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 1 2004 Jake Rossiter & Miss Jenkins Mystery
Who chopped off insurance agent Henry Jamison's head with a Samurai sword, and why? While trying to figure this out, Seattle private detective Jake Rossiter also has to deal with his recently promoted junior partner, Miss Jenkins, who is about to take on the Hashimoto family as clients for her first official case. Rossiter, an ex-marine who finished out World War II in the Pacific just a few years ago, couldn't care less about the Hashimotos -- Japanese Americans who were interned during the war and subsequently lost their Seattle dimestore in a suspicious fire. A Jap's a Jap as far as he's concerned. He tells Miss Jenkins that if she wants to waste her time trying to help a bunch of lousy Nips, fine, but she's on her own, she'll get absolutely no assistance from him. He's got more pressing business, especially considering that Eddie Valhalla, a notorious free-lance hit man, has just blown into town with his Hungarian bombshell of a gun-moll, ZaZu Pinske, who once used her seductive ways to doublecross Rossiter on Eddie's behalf.

Meanwhile, Captain Blevins, an old nemesis from the South Precinct, takes an inordinate interest in Henry Jamison's murder. And Jamison's widow, a big, overweight woman, becomes infatuated with Rossiter.

Then, Rossiter intercepts a death threat warning Miss Jenkins to back off the Hashimoto case, and Rossiter takes over the case to protect Miss Jenkins. But she doesn't believe he'll do enough work on it, and goes down to Chinatown to investiage, until she's ambushed and shot. Luckily, the bullet only grazes her, and Rossiter assigns one of his best operatives, Manny Velcker, to keep her out of trouble. Despite this, Miss Jenkins keeps dogging the case.

Bodies start piling up all over the place, including the shooter who tried to rub out Miss Jenkins, and a stripper named Bubbles LaFlamme, who, our detectives learn, was cozy with Henry Jamison. It seems that the bald, milquetoast Henry was quite the ladies' man. Rossiter discovers a cache of snapshots showing the mousy little Joe with bevies of scantily clad bimbos that would make even Errol Flynn green with envy. As the clues and danger mount, Rossiter and Miss Jenkins take more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, while struggling to help the Hashimotos. Jake still doesn't like Japs, but he develops a grudging respect for Frank Hashimoto, a bitter, decorated veteran who served with the famed 442d Regimental Combat Division in Europe.

In the end, Miss Jenkins forces a climactic confrontation at a gambling den in Seattle's Chinatown, which includes gun-play, flashing stilettos; a battle royale between the tall, tough ZaZu Pinske, and the pert, diminutive Miss Jenkins; and a tense showdown between Eddie Valhalla, Rossiter, and his old enemy, Captain Blevens. When the dust settles, the unexpected solutions to the tangled web of cases shock even a seasoned private dick like Rossiter.

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From Booklist

Insurance agent Henry Jamison was doing fine in post-World War II Seattle. Too bad someone had to chop his head off with a rusty samurai sword. But at least his office was on the same floor as private investigator Jake Rossiter, whose Gal Friday, Miss Jenkins, discovered the body. Determined to find his neighbor's killer, Rossiter must dodge his archenemy, crooked cop Harvey Blevens, who heads the police investigation. Blevens is focused on the Hashimotos, but Jake suspects the Japanese family may be convenient scapegoats. Colbert's first Rossiter caper, Rat City (2001), was nominated for a Shamus. The second builds on the late 1940s noir atmosphere of corruption, profiteering, and ambition. Rossiter, the cynical realist, does his best to navigate these murky waters with wisecracks, quick fists, and a Chandlerian determination to impose his moral vision on the world. Colbert populates Rossiter's world with a quirky melange of secondary characters, led by the always unpredictable Miss Jenkins. Readers who enjoy Max Allan Collins' Nate Heller mysteries will find a kindred soul in Colbert and Rossiter. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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First Sentence
I'D JUST PUT CREAM IN MY COFFEE, WHEN Miss Jenkins ran into the office screaming that our insurance agent down the hall just had his head chopped off with a Samurai sword. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously Good May 2 2004
SAYONARAVILLE is the 2nd book in the Jake Rossiter and Miss Jenkins series following on from the tough hardboiled RAT CITY. Curt Colbert has created a private detective series that has the look and feel of a pulp detective novel written in the 1940s. Jake Rossiter is a hard-bitten, hard drinking private detective working in Seattle. The year is 1948, Rossiter has returned home from the war to find his town overrun by corruption and feels that it's his duty to see that the rats feeding off the honest joes get the punishment they deserve.
The story opens with the rather grisly discovery of the decapitated body of Henry Jamison by Miss Jenkins. Jamison is Rossiter's insurance agent and his office adjoins Jake's. Lying on the floor near the body is a samurai sword, obviously the murder weapon.
Miss Jenkins has progressed from secretary (girl Friday) to private detective and is about to take her first case. Coincidently (or perhaps not) her first client is a Japanese man named Harry Hashimoto. The fact that he is Japanese does not sit well with Rossiter at all. Remember, this is set in 1948 and Rossiter has just returned from the Pacific where he was fighting the Japanese. He insists that Miss Jenkins drop the case, which she refuses.
When an attempt is made on Miss Jenkins' life, putting her in hospital, Rossiter takes over the case for her. The case seems straightforward enough. Mr Hashimoto wants tot get his business back after it was burned down and the insurance company refused to pay the claim. Huh? Hang on! Insurance company, Japanese...wasn't there some sort of link mentioned earlier? Hmmm.... Would anyone care to guess who the insurance agent might have been?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sayonaraville rises above mere formula. March 19 2004
As Sayonaraville opens, Jake Rossiter faces three questions: First, who beheaded insurance agent Henry Jamison, whose office occupies the same floor as Rossiter's own detective agency? Second, can he turn the crime into a paying proposition? Third, can he convince his assistant, Miss Jenkins, to abandon an unprofitable investigation into an arson case involving a destitute Japanese family?
Rossiter's attempts to answer these questions lead him on a dangerous trek through post World War II Seattle, as he copes with his idealistic assistant, amorous widows, crooked cops, mob hitmen, and cantankerous, uncooperative clients. As the death toll mounts, the tough-as-nails private eye uncovers a complex web of deceit even larger than he anticipated.
Shamus Award nominee Colbert's second novel uses the tropes of the hard-boiled detective genre to explore the age-old problem of racism, focusing on ex-Marine Rossiter's ingrained hatred of all things Japanese. Rossiter eventually buries his prejudice under pressure from Miss Jenkins and due to his experiences with Frank Hashimoto, another US veteran.
Rossiter's appeal is a tribute to Colbert's skills, and perhaps a clue to why this novel works so well in spite of the presence of myriad noir clichés--Colbert has added enough subtle touches to Rossiter to raise him above the level of a Mike Hammer clone, winning readers over with his character's gruff charm, tarnished nobility, and keen intelligence. It's an ability Colbert demonstrates repeatedly, as even his "walk-on" characters prove realistic, likeable, and memorable. It's a talent that elevates Sayonaraville above mere formula, resulting in a riveting read with broad appeal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's all in the head. Dec 2 2003
It's all here!! A riveting tale of murder, racketeering, money-laundering, corrupt cops, hit men, and strippers all told against the backdrop of the post-World War II period in Seattle's Chinatown with its dark alleys, secret passageways and secret ways. Colbert has us jump right in with the story when Rossiter is confronted by the headless body of his insurance agent. Rossiter, coolheaded as always, hopes the dead man thought to write a policy on himself. Why did Rossiter's insurance agent lose his head (literally) to a rusted samurai sword? Why would anyone kill his insurance agent, especially one who is bald, middle-aged, and kindly? The lingering bitterness of the war feeds the suspicions of Rossiter, private eye and veteran of the war in the Pacific. He wants nothing to do with the Harry Hashimoto case taken by Miss Jenkins, now his junior partner. She can sink or swim on her own. Rossiter has a more important case to solve. In this world you can't afford to lose your insurance agent. Tension builds when Rossiter butts heads with his old nemesis, hit man Eddie Valhalla and his gun moll, Zazu. Speaking of heads, just how many more hits to the head can Rossiter take? Between shady cops and shifting antagonists, maybe he should take to wearing a helmet. When Harry Hashimoto's brother, Frank, an embittered, decorated war hero of the famed all-Nisei 442nd Regiment, takes the bullets intended for Rossiter, saving the life of the private eye, Rossiter feels his own prejudices slip away. Armchair sleuths will have a field day with this one. Sayonaraville is a must-read book and a real page-turner. Makes a great gift for mystery-lovers!
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