Slow Burn by G.M. Ford

Avon (first), 1998

PI Leo Waterman isn’t easy to keep up with, but it’s worth the effort. In Slow Burn, the royalty running competing steak house chains has descended on Seattle for a haute cuisine convention; Waterman takes on the job of maintaining an uneasy balance among them. Waterman’s Boys (and a couple of Girls), denizens of the streets, are cleaned up, sobered up and dressed up so that they can help Leo prevent the public roasting of a prize bull raised by one faction by the nasties of the other faction. Ford owns the rights to the capsule character creation. His pavement residents have developed individual personalities in the three books since Ford’s terrific debut in Who In Hell Is Wanda Fuca?, and Leo has gotten sharper and funnier since the great sophomore effort Cast In Stone. Leo has the talent to keep a straight face through the battle of the bull between the rival steak houses, to keep his troops to the straight and sober and to keep Rebecca, the love of his life, happy as his roommate in the palatial estate that has descended to him through his family. As for Leo’s family, who in vast numbers serve as Seattle city functionaries, to say they are a hoot doesn’t half describe them. Leo tends to resort to the Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin practice of telling other characters what his plans are but leaving us out — that got a bit frustrating when Rex Stout did it — but it works. Slow Burn is consistently amusing and worth its little frustrations. (Kathy Phillips)

Originally published in Issue # 152 – January/February 1998

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