This is the fourth and last post on the early Deets Shanahan mysteries, just now reissued in trade paperback and e-book formats.
At the moment much is being made of what is being called “rural noir” — tough stories that grow out of isolated and insular areas of our country. Concrete Pillow, largely set in rural Southern Indiana, may be among those mysteries that investigated the territory several years ago without knowing there would eventually be a name for it. Certainly, there is a mix of backwoods living, fundamentalist religion and basketball that speaks to this regional setting. Essentially, this book is about family. Not just the hardheaded, superstitious and deadly Lindstroms who occupy the core of the story, Concrete Pillow also puts Shanahan face to face with his own family, his own past and a son he had ignored. Even the 70-year-old private eye has to face a world he helped create.
In some ways, this book is the end of the beginning of the Shanahan novels. Book Five, the now out-of-print, Nickel-Plated Soul, is the beginning of the middle Shanahans, where Shanahan enters the broader world with newfound friends and colleagues. With Concrete Pillow, the stage is set for the next six Shanahan mysteries.
What the story is about:
Young Luke Lindstrom was an all-star high school basketball player. So were his brothers. But something strange was happening. One brother committed suicide, another suffered a near fatal accident. When the third met his death, Shanahan knew there was more going on than a string of bad luck. Even though the last thing Shanahan wanted to do was work for a heroin addict, there was something likable about Luke and something absolutely weird happening to his seriously, perhaps criminally dysfunctional family.
What the reviewers said at the time:
“… a serious examination of family relationships.” — Booklist
“(The Concrete Pillow) is a great mystery with endless twists and turns.” — South Bend Tribune
“Shanahan is a terrific character, feisty, even noble.” — Publishers Weekly
"Tierney fleshes out his characters well, with the curmudgeonly Shanahan at the fore. The author has a knack for the cleverly turned phrase and deft imagery." — The Indianapolis Star
“Tierney writes with great skill and compassion.” (Five Stars) — Deadly Pleasures
“Interesting people, a solid mystery, and poignantly loopy domestic complications.” — Kirkus Reviews