Fans of detective stories love a good murder mystery. But besides the whodunnit chase, USA Today bestselling author Rob Leininger provides a story filled with witty banter and snarky conversation in his newest novel, Gumshoe in the Dark (Oceanview Publishing), book five in the Mortimer Angel “Gumshoe” detective series.

Forty-three-year-old former IRS-agent-turned-private-investigator Mortimer Angel got a timely taste of his new occupation within four hours, finding “the decapitated head of Reno’s mayor in the trunk of his ex-wife’s Mercedes.” Since then, he seems to attract body parts. 

As Mort admits, his boss “still gets nervous when I phone after I’ve been out of her sight for over twenty-four hours. I’ve found so many bodies and body parts of famous missing people in the past two years that she cringes when I call.” 

And during the past two years, he’s suffered three concussions, has been buried alive, tied to a chair in a burning building, and watched as his previous fiancé was murdered two feet away from him. 

As a guy that’s six feet four inches tall and handsome, he also attracts pretty women. From his first day as a private eye, “girls had flocked to him like pigeons to a statue.” He thought this was his reward “after working 16 years for the IRS as a field thug” before he told them to shove the job where the sun don’t shine. 

BUNGLED CARJACKING

Mort’s boss, 63-year-old and “crusty” Maude “Ma” Clary, assigns him to track down a 25-year-old “shithead” named Elrood Wintergarden. The guy is a serial gigolo, stealing money from a myriad of unsuspecting women. Go figure he was about to inherit over $600,000 from a rich relative. Well, provided Mort can track him down, and then, only if Mort can stomach telling a bum like Elrood he’s going to be rich. Maybe Mort should pretend he couldn’t find him?

As he tracks Elrood, Mort picks up a female hitchhiker, alone at night on a deserted stretch of Nevada highway in the pouring rain — he was trying to be kind. The girl carjacks him, but not before he disables the truck by cutting the valve stem off his tire. She didn’t get far; they were stuck with each other. 

At first, Mort and Harper are at odds, but they ease into a quirky comic relationship as they drive through the desert in the pouring rain in a truck with only two-and-a-half inflated tires. As the vehicle clunks down the deserted highway, Harper tries her best to flirt with Mort, but she soon learns he’s not only a Boy Scout but an Eagle Scout. He’s married to a contortionist named Lucy who captured his heart within fifteen minutes. 

A STICKY SITUATION

During the drive, Harper tells Mort that her estranged mother is Nevada’s Attorney General who’s been missing for several days. Ma would be angry that Mort has again found himself in the middle of a high-profile crime. Just days ago, Ma had told him that if he “came across Attorney General Leeman — her body or any disconnected body parts thereof since that’s how he came across famous missing people — that he was well and truly fired.”

Of course, Ma fires him at least daily. 

It’s soon obvious that someone is tracking Harper. Now, besides locating Elrood, Mort must stay off the radar to ensure Harper’s safety. How in the hell he’d gotten himself into another sticky situation, Mort isn’t sure? He “tried to add it all up, but it was gumbo, disconnected bits and pieces.” But he’s determined to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. 

Lucy meets up with Mort and Harper, and the three soon find themselves in a close-to-deadly situation, learning the men who want Harper are the same thugs who hung two teenage girls a week before. Like all good thrillers, the narrative turns serious, and the tension escalates. They’re not sure how, or if, they’ll be able to escape.

When Mort and Ma discover that the killings involve not one, but two prominent government officials, they’ll have to bring their A-game to catch the one who contracted the murders and rescue Lucy and Harper. He’s not sure if any of them will survive. Of course, leave it to Mort to figure out how to conceal a weapon while naked.

Leininger takes readers through a P.I.’s worst nightmare, all while enjoying the humorous repartee that Mort excels at. Reading Gumshoe in the Dark is like watching a comedy routine performed at gunpoint. Danger lurks just around the corner, but we can’t help but laugh at the witty back-and-forth between the characters. 

Readers who enjoy the lighter side of the dark side will love the comic relief that is the hallmark of Rob Leininger and Mortimer Angel. But one thing is for sure: Mort is no angel.

Learn more about Leininger on his BookTrib Facebook page.

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Rob Leininger is an electronic technician (U.S. Navy), a mechanical engineer, a high school math teacher, the author of the Gumshoe P.I. series and other mysteries and thrillers. He lives in Northwest Montana with his wife and three spoiled dogs.