I'm only a quarter of the way through it, but Terrall's already won me over with his way with lacerating descriptions, which flow nicely out of his sardonic detective. Like this:
She was enormously fat and loaded with jewels, like the wife of a slum landlord in an old-fashioned radical cartoon.(Appropriately for Labor Day, that brings to mind the giant, hideous-looking inflatable rats that unions will perch outside of non-union work sites.)
Mere pages later, the detective describes a much-despised insurance inspector:
He was thin and dapper, with an ebbing hairline and a narrow, nervous mustache which seemed to have landed on his upper lip by accident.
Then an arrogant local cop enters the picture:
He was well over six feet, and didn't have much fat on him except around the mouth. He had an abundant crop of iron-gray hair, and I diagnosed him at once as the kind of extremist who gets a weekly haircut. The fat lips smiled at me, showing teeth that were too beautiful to be his own.That's effectively mean-spirited, though it doesn't have quite the sting to it that the above descriptions share. But that's only because, like a skilled comedian, Terrall knows how to parcel out his material, saving the best for an unexpected return to a theme, in this case a dozen pages later:
We continued to look at each other. I was fascinated by the teeth. They would have made a wonderful prop for a hypnotist.
Oh, this one's going to be good.