Oliver Redcastle owes William Pinkerton a favor, so once again, he is off in search of a villain. This time he has to capture Frank Aballo, a trapeze artist turned bank robber. Redcastle heads to a Midwestern island, Put-in-Bay, during a blistering hot July in the year 1884.
It was great fun to travel back in history and the time period is captured in vivid details, bringing it alive and making me feel as if I was being bitten by mosquitos and sweltering in the humidity, as I tried to help Redcastle solve the mysteries that kept popping up.
The action is fast and continuous as Redcastle gets caught in one intrigue after another. He has to locate a preacher’s daughter inside a cult, work with a less than congenial assistant, keep his former mistress at arm’s length, all the time, trying to recover the stolen money and apprehend the train robber.
The characters were very real. The action takes place in a short period of time, so there wasn’t a lot of character development, but they were all believable and interesting. I especially liked one of the minor characters, a young lad named Billy Stojack. His mother does the laundry for day-trippers and others, definitely not an easy job given the hardness of the water which leaves reddish stains around the wash basin. Billy brings in some extra cash acting as a guide, running errands and so forth. He is a very nice addition to the story, making it seem even more real and human.
If you want to feel what it was like to be a Pinkerton detective, rub shoulders with famous historical figures, all the time trying to solve an interesting murder, then Hard Water may be just what you are looking for.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.