by Daniel Judson
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312383619
Date: 28 September 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Manhattan PI Remer was a professional voyeur who was paid to spy on adulterous spouses. One night, while tailing a mark, he was ambushed by four thugs who took him to a warehouse. Bound to a chair, hands tied behind his back with wire, Remer screamed with agony as a soldering iron carved a word into his chest. It was a word intended to be a constant reminder of what he was: a voyeur.
Six years later, the word has been surgically removed from Remer's chest; however, the emotional and physical scars remain. No longer a PI, Remer is now the owner of a lucrative liquor store in Southampton Village. A friend, Detective Kay Barton, begs him to locate a missing heiress, Mia Ferrara. Soon, Remer becomes entangled in a bloody web of deception and betrayal.
Once again, Daniel Judson has supplied his fans with another violent crime noir set in the Hamptons of Long Island. Voyeur is populated by beautiful women and large, masculine men. There are the requisite female fatale, the badass hit man, and the attractive girl who is fleeing from her problems. An action-packed crime fantasy (intended chiefly for men), Voyeur is a quick read.
Like Judson's previous thriller, The Violet Hour, the atmospheric setting in Voyeur is one of desolation, isolation and coldness. The tourists are gone. Many homes are closed and abandoned because of the winter season and the depressed economy. However, not all is bleak; there is the scattering of Christmas decorations. Most all of the novel's present action occurs during the Christmas season though the main characters aren't strict observers of this sacred holiday.
Remer reminds me of Cal Rakowski, the young mechanic in The Violet Hour. Both men have soft hearts, which prove to be their downfalls; they also help pregnant women in locating missing girls who are troubled. Along the way, they are terrorized by thugs and a female fatale. However, unlike Rakowski, Remer is older and more experienced at defending himself.
A former marine, Remer is large and handsome. He once worked as a detective for a law firm before becoming a PI. He has all the state-of-the-art spying equipment. He also has a Glock with a silencer and uses it to obtain revenge on the Frenchman who scarred him. I can't judge him; I probably would've craved vengeance myself. The Frenchman deserved it.
Do I admire Remer? Most men would. Like James Bond, he's had sexual relations with every beautiful woman in the plot: Kay Barton, Mia Ferrara, and Angela Syc (pronounced sigh). The only other female lead, Casey Collins, is a bartender and a boxer who knocks him unconscious. She leaves him for dead in the cold and snow; however, when Remer knocks out two assailants, he takes measures to ensure they are found. For that, I admire him.
Remer becomes involved with the very strange, very disturbed Ferrara family. One or more of its members suffers from a mental illness termed narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Victims of child abuse, they have low self-esteem and are jealous of others. Consequently, they often lie and fantasize in order to appear special or important; they also manipulate friends and family in an effort to achieve material goals.
Voyeurism can be deceptive; voyeurism can be dangerous. On several occasions, it almost gets Remer killed. While reading Voyeur, I kept thinking of the hit 1984 song, Somebody's Watching Me, sung by R&B artist Rockwell. The novel, like the song, deals with the theme of paranoia and how it can manipulate our perception of reality. Paranoia, in the case of someone with NPD, can be detrimental. However, it can make one be more careful as in the case of Remer when he is investigating.
Daniel Judson's Voyeur is highly recommended for fans of crime noir. It is best read around Christmas. Other gritty, violent mysteries involving gangsters, mobsters, hit men and/or thugs are: the novels of Stuart Neville (The Ghosts of Belfast and Collusion), David J. Schow's Internecine, Blake Crouch's Snowbound, Brian M. Wiprud's Buy Back and Thomas Kaufman's Drink the Tea: A Mystery.