The Lt. Joe Sonntag Mystery Series
By Axel Brand
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THE HOTEL DICK
It's 1948 Milwaukee. The Lakeshore Towers Hotel house detective, J. Adam Bark, is murdered while sitting in a barber's chair. Homicide detective Lieutenant Joe Sonntag is sent to investigate, but has a difficult time with the barber's insistence that Spencer Tracy killed Bark.
Disbelieving, Joe begins his investigation, made all the more bizarre when Greer Garson and Veronica Lake are shot. Or are they?
The retro vibes in this story are strong with historical police procedures and strong characters.
THE DEAD GENIUS
Armand de Trouville is dead. The little genius pioneered a new field, forensic document examination. Thanks to Trouville, forgers and people who write fake wills and stickup men who pass notes to bank cashiers are in jail.
Trouville died of a heart attack at age 68. Or did he? Things don't add up. There are no heirs, no clues about Trouville's past, no family. And something is fishy about his death. Lieutenant Joe Sonntag, who head the investigations unit of the Milwaukee Police, has a tough job ahead. He doesn't know who the little genius was or how he died or whether or not someone killed him. There are plenty of people who would be glad to see him dead. And why did he hide his past?
This is the second of Axel Brand's mysteries set in 1940s Milwaukee. Axel Brand is a pseudonym for an established novelist working in a different field.
Milwaukee, 1948. Joe Sonntag, ace investigator for the police department, faces a riddle: a lovely young woman is found dead at the zoo, near the lion cages, lying in a bed of ferns. She has been carefully laid out there, her arms folded. Nearby, a lioness prowls her cage. Plainly, whoever put her there cared for her.
Detective Lieutenant Joe Sonntag, the brains of the Milwaukee Police Department, tries to get the scoop on her: why she was placed there in that fashion, and who or what killed her. A lucky break puts him on the trail to a summer camp outside of the city, where girls discover how to be independent women. Joe Sonntag knows plenty about the criminal mind but doesn't know beans about women. His wife, Lizbeth, likes to remind him of it. She's got her own ideas about this deal.
The other detectives, young Frank Silva and urbane Eddy Walsh, think they have women figured out and that Sonntag is a bit retarded when it comes to skirts. Between them the follow leads that take them in startling directions. They find a mysterious world none of he knew about, where death can be a mercy and compassion can inspire murder.