Joshua Croft is a Santa Fe private investigator working for the Mondragón Agency, owned by Rita Mondragón. The case in Wall of Glass centers on a valuable piece of jewelry which was stolen from the house of a wealthy Santa Fe family. The insurance company has already settled the claim, and Joshua is approached by Frank Biddle, who claims to know where the jewelry is. He plans to offer it to the insurance company for a finder's fee with Joshua as the middleman. Before they can come to an agreement, Biddle is killed. The Mondragón Agency then contracts to look into the whereabouts of the stolen necklace.
From the start we know that Joshua has a thing for Rita, who is involved with the investigation but is on the sidelines because she was crippled by a gunshot wound, and is in a wheelchair. This element does not overshadow the story but is always in the background.
The story is told in first person narration by Joshua. He is likable, intelligent, and cynical, a typical wise-cracking private eye. Rita does run the show, but Joshua makes his own decisions, sometimes putting himself in dangerous situations. The story is heavy on dialogue, and Satterthwait does a good job with it. The mystery plot is complex with many possible suspects and various people hiding the truth, but with Joshua telling the story, it moves along at a brisk pace and in a straightforward way.
These three paragraphs describing Joshua's meeting with Frank Biddle illustrate Satterthwait's style, which I found very readable:
He was short and muscular, and he moved across the office with a quick alert strut, a bantam swagger, like someone who might take offense at the word "Napoleon." He wore dusty Western boots, faded jeans, a tight-fitting denim shirt, and a gray Stetson with the sides of its brim curled up. His face was sun-reddened and his eyes had the prairie squint. This being Santa Fe, he could've been exactly what he looked like. A real live cowboy.
On the other hand, this being Santa Fe, he could've been a stockbroker.
He didn't introduce himself or offer his hand or take off his hat. Which probably eliminated stockbroker. He plopped down into the client's chair, stretched out his legs, and crossed them at the ankles. Lacing his fingers together atop his chest, he said, "I got what you call a hypothetical situation." Which probably eliminated cowboy.One of the quirks of this writer (at least in this book) is that every character is introduced with a description of their clothing. Nothing at all wrong with that, I enjoyed it and I think when we meet people in real life we do "judge" them on their clothing. But the consistency here was a bit surprising... plus the fact that the author is male and he knows way more about clothes than I do. I probably would not have noticed it if I wasn't an avid reader of Clothes in Books and now often pay more attention to clothing descriptions in mysteries.
Here is a description of Joshua, preparing to attend an opening at a gallery:
For my outing that evening I selected a pair of clean Levis, Luchese lizardskin boots, a pale blue silk shirt, and my Adolfo blue blazer. Understated elegance. The sort of thing Hoot Gibson might wear to the Four Seasons.If, like me, you don't know who Hoot Gibson is, per IMDB he was "a pioneering cowboy star of silent and early talking Westerns" and "one of the 1920s' most popular children's matinée heroes."
library blog lists the books in the Joshua Croft series and describes other books the author has written.
Thanks to my wonderful husband for finding this series of books for me; I will be reading the next book soon.
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press, 2002
(orig. publ. 1987)
Length: 246 pages
Format: Trade paperback
Series: Joshua Croft, #1
Setting: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Source: I purchased my copy.