Niki Danforth’s Unconventional Private Eye
I was offered this ebook, “Delilah,” to review by Hidden Gems. It’s actually the length of a short story and is a very smart way to introduce a continuing character. The author, Niki Danforth, is a good writer and presents a short case, perhaps too easily solved, but she proves adept at presenting her private eye in a compelling way.
We learn Ronnie Lake’s age and background: she’s in her 50s, divorced and living by choice in a cottage near her former, opulent McMansion. Her reasons for wishing to become a private eye are as much to do with human curiosity as with an attraction to her handsome younger partner, Will Benson, and how she and ostensibly her partner go about solving the 40-year-old cold case before them.
(In mystery fiction and movies, it seems that cold cases are becoming more in vogue – witness trendsetting Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch.)
Here’s the thing. “Delilah” is a marketing carrot. Not a free carrot, because she sells this slight book on Amazon. But for all of us Hidden Gems reviewers it was a free carrot, as well it should be. It’s a brief introduction to Ronnie and bait to compel reading more in Danforth’s Ronnie Lake series.
How does she dangle the carrot?
The considerably tidy case of “Delilah” is followed by the first three chapters from a full-length Ronnie Lake novel, and after the reader has closed the 77-page book or their Kindle’s cover, they are quite likely hooked: you like Ronnie for her spunk and drive, and you enjoy Niki’s polished writing style which hones the genre to a satisfying edge.
This novella, if you will, is one heck of a great way to market a novel, a character and a series, and my hat goes off to Ms. Danforth. I’ve seen this marketing ploy used to introduce a new series character in other novels in the somewhat indistinct path, where a novella is packaged in the first pages of a full-length novel. Of course, today we can do very similar and quite effective things like this with email and websites.
But it’s also good storytelling, and that’s of utmost importance. And so is a well-drawn main character, and Niki Danforth delivers on both. I would anticipate the mysteries themselves make for a better read in her full-length novels.