DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins (Hardcase Crime #38)
The cool thing about DEADLY BELOVED is that not only is it written by MAC, the author who is responsible for everyone's favourite hitman in Quarry, but it's got a rich and interesting history associated with the lead character PI Michael Tree.
Mrs. Tree started in the newspaper funny pages as a comic strip which evolved to make the character the longest running PI comic in history (as credited by MAC in the afterword). Mrs. Tree also features in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS in the story Maternity Leave, and while, DEADLY BELOVED is outside of continuity, Maternity Leave does read familiar due to the reoccurring characters in DEADLY BELOVED. Having read Maternity Leave recently, I think the Hardcase Crime novel and the comic complement one another nicely.
DEADLY beloved is a multi layered PI pulp that is more smoke and mirrors than straight forward mystery. There are so many elements and plot threads that come in and out of play which keep the reader guessing and the bullets buzzing.
Originally published in 2006, I hope MAC revisits the series in prose form as this revised 'origin' story sets Mrs. Tree as a unique and dangerously addictive PI - a great diversification of the genre.