Jelly’s Gold by David Housewright

Rushmore McKenzie was a St. Paul policeman until an unexpected event allowed him to retire as a millionaire. Now he does favors for friends as an unlicensed private investigator. When graduate students Ivy Flynn (who first appeared in Tin City) and Josh Berglund come to him and ask for help finding gold never recovered from a 1930’s bank robbery in North Dakota, McKenzie is intrigued.

What follows is a wonderful combination of a classic caper story and an interesting look into the seedy underbelly of St. Paul, MN in the 1930’s, when corruption was rampant and gangsters were left alone by the police as long as they did their crimes elsewhere. I love spending time with McKenzie and his friends. The characters are very well developed (including the city of St. Paul) , the stories move quickly, and the writing is snappy. McKenzie is full of snark and sarcasm, which I really enjoy.

I highly recommend this series for anyone who likes hard-boiled P.I. novels that don’t take themselves too seriously. They remind me of the Nebraska mystery series by William J. Reynolds, which came out in the late 1980s (and are definitely worth checking out from your local library if you can find them). They also remind me a little of Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennero mysteries, although those tend to be darker.

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