Charles Salzberg: Second Story Man
Self-absorbed, high self-esteem, convinced he’s invincible and definitely motivated to remain on the lamb and never getting caught, Francis Hoyt is like the Invisible Man by H.G. Wells a classic. A mysterious stranger whose face is covered in bandages and his eyes hidden by dark spectacles is hidden in a cozy inn in a British Village. Francis Hoyt his face hidden beneath a cap, his clothes dark and his appearance altered and his hands completely covered enters the homes of unsuspecting people and takes what he claims belongs to him, their valuable. Our invisible man stays beneath the hidden recesses of his room as someone enters the room and realizes he has no head. Drugs are the key to his invisibility. Monocane and greed, power and control and being elusive is what keeps Hoyt below the radar and hoping to remain on the run. Hoyt is driven by desire to rob those he feels won’t really miss what he takes and the Invisible man is driven insane by this drug but both definitely have that in common as Hoyt randomly makes remarks and comments that will lead readers to wonder if he’s a megalomaniac and enjoys taunting others and of course the two men that hope to bring him down but will they?
Manny Perez is a detective with the Miami Police force and on suspension for doing an illegal search and seizure without a warrant. Some mocked him but others praised his ingenuity. Charles Floyd is a retired P.I. who Manny enlists to help him bring Hoyt down. Told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of all three of these men, the reader will come to understand the rationale behind Hoyt’s thinking, the pawns he uses to get what he wants and the friendship that is tight between Manny and Charlie whose mode of conducting the investigation differs. At time you find the humor in what they are doing and their body language alone intimates those being questioned. Hoyt seems so self-assured and the two women he keeps on tap using them for his own pleasures and paying their way when needed, lets readers know that this one man not to be taken lightly.
Several informants and other contacts surface as we meet Georgie Porgie who helps Manny get information on Hoyt but that’s not even the tip of any iceberg. Hoyt is active back on the scene and money is his goal, stealing anything he feels worth money and fencing it not where it was stolen. Georgie claims that Hoyt is active anywhere there is money, mainly old money and he might be in New York, New Jersey anywhere. Manny’s goal was to show Hoyt’s face at the local libraries but no one knew him until he went to the Society Library. Hoyt’s tool of the trade is a screwdriver that did all that he needed to do in order to break into a house and get what he wanted. Not wanting as he states to be charged with armed robbery he carried no weapon and using surgical gloves and buying some other nondescript supplies he hoped the drugstore kid would not remember him.
Manny and Charlie were smart but this Hoyt was slippery and would know they were after him hoping to send some serious messages in his own way. Dealing with his girlfriends Melanie Shaw and Evelyn Kerns brought two different responses but both women were totally snowed by Hoyt’s charm and of course his money keeping them in whatever lifestyle made them happy. But, anyone that crosses him would definitely pay and his snitch Tommy was naïve, not too bright and was trying to win back in Hoyt’s good graces but sometimes you just don’t win. Working through different theories, using contacts from the police department and Charlie honing in on his own both Manny and Charlie Floyd hoped to snag this guy but he was so clever and so shady even his own mother was afraid to talk about him no less dare go give him up.
Manny is astute but Charlie is smart and comical at times but the fun is when Manny calls him Charlie Floyd for some reason using his full name all the time. Manny is obsessed with finding Hoyt and taking notes, recording meetings while Charlie must remembers information makes them an usual team and their mode of investigation unique in their own way. Floyd is a good investigator and he knows when someone is lying or holding something back which some cannot discern.
Hoyt uses Tommy to try and bring Charlie to him and when coming face to face the interaction is not what you would expect. Silver was Hoyt’s favorite thing to steal and realizing that going to the second floor of houses was no longer possible he had to go with the next best thing. Justifying his wants and stating that stealing was his career or vocation he could not understand why anyone would try and stop him. He’s a self-made egotistical thief and proud of himself giving himself bragging rights and yet having thugs, mob members under his thumb and even threatening his own mother if she dared speak about him to anyone. His loyalties were to himself and no one else as Melinda and Evelyn would soon learn.
Manny wanted another shot at Evelyn Kerns but the end result would surprise him as his contact David Chung in his department might help with her work address but her loyalties were misplaced and the end result was surprising to Manny. Showing her his rap sheet and a picture of him Melinda did not even make a dent in her perception or feelings for Hoyt as author Charles Salzberg created two women caught between webs of lies and deceits and a serious meal ticket to pay for their expenses allowing both women to live better lives in within their own minds but just how naïve are they?
Tommy shows up and tries to lure Charlie into coming to a place where he is sure Hoyt will be. Tommy Pfister is not very bright and falls for the line he’s programmed to say and he would rat out anyone just to make a profit. Playing two sides or as Hoyt stated a double agent is what he thought was great but not when he just might be double-crossed. Knowing which town he’s in and informing the police and realizing that he’s made off with silver in many places worth thousands little did Charlie know that he would be another one of his victims.
Threats made against someone’s family and fear sets in that maybe going after him might not be such a good idea. When the final scenes are played and the end comes to light just what happens when Charlie and Hoyt have a final faceoff? The ending lets readers know that the author is not done with these characters and there is much more to come. Will Hoyt pay for his crimes? Will Charlie and Manny ever reconcile that this man is smart and might not ever be caught? The dialogue is outstanding and each character’s voice is different and mode of expression unique as this hide and seek mystery thriller keeps your guessing, smiling, laughing at the sarcasm, humor and banter between the characters at different point in the story as once again Charles Salzburg hits the mark with an outstanding novel that will keep you wondering at the end what ‘s next? One story that will keep you riveted to the printed page as it did me from start to finish when you realize that Hoyt might come to your neighborhood if he’s not caught, locked up because this SECOND STORY MAN knows no limits or bounds. Characters that are well crafted and you want to see more of. Self-absorbed, self-obsessed, disloyal, betrays anyone but himself welcome to the world of FRANCIS HOYT!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine