Charles Willeford is a very engaging writer, technically his novels are considered crime or noir fiction, but I think those are reductive labels. I always feel like I learn something new when I read one of his books, and his characters are memorable and seem very believable and true to life as well. Sideswipe (1987) is a great example of this. This is the third Hoke Moseley novel and he is not your conventional hero: divorced, broke, balding, wears dentures, single father of two adolescent girls and at the onset of this novel is going through a nervous breakdown. His pregnant partner Elita Sanchez moves him into his father's house in Singer Island, his birthplace and his version of peace on earth. Moseley decides to retire from the force and manage a small long term stay hotel. During this time he befriends an entomologist, nicknamed "Itai," a professor who is on sabbatical writing a novel and whose speciality is the Ethiopian horse fly. The professor got his nickname from his colleagues after he returned from a year in Kyoto at a zen monastery and couldn't stop talking to people about it (by the way "itai" means "painful" in Japanese). Itai brings to his attention that his daughter Aileen is bulimic and Moseley has deal with that mess. But detective work is in his blood as he helps the local police solve a series of art thefts in an expensive luxury condominium. Here, like in The Burnt Orange Heresy, he can show off his knowledge about art and collecting have some fun at the expense of the art world. This can also be seen in his treatment of the primitive, non objectionist artist from Barbados. There is a parallel story taking place about a retired autoworker, Stanley Sinkiewicz, from Detroit now living in Florida who through a series of events meets a true criminal psychopath in Troy Louden. That's not to say that Troy doesn't have his charms, and manages to put together a crew with Sinkiewicz and the painter to make a stake on a big heist so that they can go to Haiti to get his grotesquely disfigured stripper girl friend plastic surgery,. Getting back to Sinkiewicz, he's no ordinary retiree. He has a cane in which he keeps cyanide pellets to poison dangerous seeming neighborhood dogs. The robbery goes bad and several people are needlessly killed in the melee and Moseley is called into action by his boss and end up solving the crime. Did I mention that humor abounds aplenty? This gives Miami Blues a run for its money as my favorite Willeford novel.