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Richard Helms
Doctor Hate

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Richard Helms’ Derringer Award-winning (The Gospel According to Gordon Black) and Shamus Award-winning (Brittle Karma) San Francisco private eye Eamon Gold returns in Doctor Hate, a tale cast in molds forged by Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and Robert B. Parker. Brandon Hunt is an arch-conservative, racist, sexist, xenophobic college professor, and he isn't shy about it. Having won almost termination-proof tenure in a lawsuit against the university, he has become a lightning rod for controversy with his vitriolic diatribes in public speeches and the press, earning him the nickname 'Doctor Hate.' Now, Hunt has been attacked on campus and brutally beaten. He hires San Francisco private eye Eamon Gold and his new partner, detective-in-training Sonny Malehala, for personal protection as the police investigate the assault. Then, Hunt reveals to Gold that he's being blackmailed, and the case takes on a more sinister profile.
Eamon Gold, private investigator, is back in action on the streets of San Francisco in Helms’s dramatic detective mystery, which kicked off with 2004’s well-received Grass Sandal. Brandon Hunt, nicknamed Doctor Hate, is a notorious tenured professor who wears his racist and sexist points-of-view on his sleeve. Many in the progressive Bay Area wish upon this outspoken man who makes no effort to hide his vile opinions and might even relish the shock value. After a physical assault leaves him shaken, Hunt seeks the protection of Gold. Gold eventually accepts the case and quickly finds himself unraveling an enigma soaked in vengeance. It’s up to him to keep Hunt safe as the stakes are raised and the tension bubbles over.

Quick paced and packed with action, Doctor Hate holds nothing back as Gold navigates the unsavory secrets of the professor’s personal life. A captivating protagonist created by an accomplished and experienced mystery writer, Gold evokes the private eye of a great black-and-white noir flick with a chip-on-his-shoulder for always doing right by his client, even if that client is as despicable as Brandon Hunt. Helms’s realistic dialogue, characterizations fitting for each character’s unique personality, and vivid sense of place all invite readers into a world that mystery lovers will relish the chance to explore. The many twists will keep them on their toes, turning pages, guessing until the final moments.

While Eamon Gold has appeared in previous books, readers unfamiliar with this self-described “meat and potatoes blue collar private cop” will quickly feel as if they are spending the evening with a close friend. The relevant background information is seamlessly filtered into the story, revealing just enough to add another layer of intrigue and personality to characters without weighing down the action. Helms’s crisp, blunt dialogue and prose and assured sense of mystery construction will please readers looking for a tantalizing detective story in the classical mode.

Takeaway: Fans of classic noir detective stories will love unraveling this fast-paced crime drama.

Great for fans of: Robert B. Parker, Scott Phillips.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A+
Marketing copy: A

In Helms’s strong sequel to 2020’s Brittle Karma, San Francisco PI Eamon Gold, who considers himself “a meat and potatoes blue collar private cop,” is asked for help by college professor Brandon Hunt, nicknamed Doctor Hate on Twitter for his militantly anti-PC views (“Sick and tired of seeing so much money spent on Women’s Studies. Where is the Men’s Studies program? After all, the only thing women want to really study is men”). Hunt has been the target of threats for his opinions, culminating in an assault by a group of unidentified men, a crime that the police don’t take seriously. Gold declines to try to identify the assailants, using the excuse that the official inquiry is still open, but agrees to provide protection for his client. Gold comes to believe that Hunt was attacked for other reasons after Hunt reveals that he’s the subject of a blackmail threat over a compromising photo sent via campus mail of his participation in a threesome. The case becomes a murder investigation and takes some unexpected turns en route to a satisfying resolution. Fans of intelligent hard-boiled mysteries will be pleased. (Self-published)