"Dark Horse" by J. R. Rain - # 1 in the "Jim Knighthorse" series:
This crime novel contains the typical elements of a classic detective mystery: A murder investigation closed too early by the police; a suspect who conveniently matches the criteria for one being found guilty; a troubled detective - your classic "Man With Issues"; a big city where light and shadow are close neighbours and often difficult to separate, and a cast of characters that are not always immediately recognizable as good or bad guys.
The general tone of this novel was not really my taste. Some of the supposedly wittier remarks were cynical, others were obscene or at least vulgar. The main characters were not my favourite people, but I suspect the author did not endeavour to make them particularly likeable. Still, tension was kept up well, and I did want to know the solution to the "Whodunnit" even though I found the final showdown not very credible.
Jim is a very good detective, but he struggles with many issues: secret drinking, the unsolved murder of his mother when he was only a child, a loveless father, and last but not least his regrets about not having pursued a professional football career when it was within his reach.
The case that is put in front of him involves a couple of high school sweethearts; the girl was found murdered, her boyfriend has no alibi and the murder weapon was found in his car. Just like the boy's attorney, Jim does not believe he did it, and when he starts investigating, several violent attempts at persuading him to drop the case make him even more determined to prove the suspect's innocence and find the true culprit.
In the meantime, he is trying to re-establish himself in the football world, coming to terms with unresolved issues with his father, his mother's murder, and his girlfriend's questioning their relationship.
Needless to say, Jim solves the case, not without some more deaths happening along the way. As for the other strings of this story, I won't tell you their outcome here. But one character I want to mention is "Jack", a homeless person Jim frequently talks to, never being quite certain whether the man is really just a particularly weird bum or indeed, as to his own claim, God.
Those conversations with Jack are what I enjoyed most about the book. To continue reading them, and to tie up one or two other ends deliberately left loose in this story, I am actually tempted to look for more in the series - as long as I can find them for free.