What do a necrophile, a missing boy, and an unsavoury PI have in common? The Last Of The Independents reads like a real-time drama/detective story. Sam Weibe has created a believable story around the main character -- Michael Drayton -- who runs a private investigation agency in Vancouver specializing in missing persons. At only 29 years old, Michael comes across as a much more seasoned individual, possibly because he is in the business that can take a toll on the human psyche. But he's also is haunted by another unsolved case. One of a young girl.
Now a new case lands on his desk. The son of a local junk merchant is missing. Will he let his prior unsolved case of the disappearance of a young girl haunt him? Time will tell. The one thing about The Last Independents is that it is a novel which is not rushed! Slowly and realistically it sets the pace for a real time crime fiction adventure. This can be unnerving for the impatient reader, overanxious to move the novel along, but for the reader who enjoys seeing the nuances of the way PI actually works, it's a rewarding journey into the ins and outs of what really happens behind the scenes. Notwithstanding the daily grind of investigation along with the narratives darkness the story has its lighter moments:
"I don't understand why people talk to their dogs, but that doesn't mean I haven't engaged in that practice myself. At the park on Monday night my dog shot me a look of admonishment, as if to say, "So you've added criminal invasion of privacy to your job description? And you think it's going to work out? Or stop there?I didn't have an answer for her."
The fresh voice will appeal to those who enjoy a good gritty novel that is not fluff. It is refreshing to see a PI character who doesn't mirror the Remington Steele type persona we're used to seeing on television. Don't get me wrong, I love Pierce Brosnan but just as Daniel Craig brought a wonderful divergence to the crime fiction genre, so too, does Sam Wiebe's Michael Drayton. It's hard to resist a main character who is part cynical but deep down has a good heart.
He is sort of like a dark tempered Mr. Darcy who stands by a strict moral code but has a good head on his shoulders. Except this isn't a romantic story where the character is over hyped. It is the struggle of a fundamentally honest man who attempts to make a decent living in a corrupt society.