FORT WORTH NIGHTS by James Reasoner
Although James Reasoner is mostly known these days as a writer of Westerns and historical fiction, he cut his teeth on detective writing. For a long time, he was the “ghost” for the Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine, penning monthly adventures of Miami’s favorite redheaded detective. Somewhere in there, he also started writing the adventures of Cody, PI. Texas Wind, Reasoner’s award-winning novel, features Cody in a full-length adventure.
Fort Worth Nights is a collection of short stories that Reasoner successfully published in different venues. They’re gathered here for the first time, and the author has graciously added to the kitty by kicking in an all-new Cody story set in the present.
The stories prior to “Assisted Dying” are all set decades before and are noticeably deficient in cell phones and computers. In the new story, Cody is up to speed with these things but is also a much older man. About ready for the retirement home himself, he tells one of the characters in that story.
I enjoyed the older stories a lot. Reasoner captures a lot of the same small-town atmosphere I grew up in and it was easy to sink into Cody’s worlds. Even the Mexico adventure didn’t seem so far away because a lot of people I know have been to Mexico. The country was a favorite vacation spot for a long time.
Cody also deals with people who manage dog fights, something I grew up around too, but which seems to be stamped out more or less here in Oklahoma after a long time.
Reasoner has a good touch with his character. Cody is an everyday kind of guy. Not a superman like so many of the private eyes in the field these days, and more along the lines of Bill Pronzini’s Nameless Detective, only with a decidedly Western accent.
I enjoyed the stories a lot. They took me back to gentler times (even though bullets were flying), and even the last story set in the present didn’t jar that feeling of nostalgia.