Someone is writing the stories of hoboes and other people. Then a hobo is found dead in a charity clothes collection bin, missing his shoes. Somewhere in his late forties, Acey Tapp is a P.I.-wannabe from Willow Falls, Michigan. He is the only child of Laura and Karl Tapp, separated. Laura is dying.
In this first book of a series, Acey Tapp is an unemployed philanderer who must face Laura’s mortality as well as his own, although he lacks much nerve to do so. In addition, he has trouble making a living. Hanging around the scene of the hobo’s murder, Tapp decides that he is best suited to the job of private investigator because he lies easily, can be on the road long-term, and can use his gutsy “anatomy” very well. Haunted by the sadness of an absent father who abandoned him in infancy, Tapp gradually decides to specialize in tracking missing persons.
Acey is likeable and unlikable at once with a depressing life, but some good points shine up through the crust of bad experiences. He needs new friends to provide a better influence. Nosing around the discovery place of the dead hobo leads him to meet the owner of McMunn & Son, P.I.s. Webb McMunn is completely obsessed with finding missing persons because he himself was missing in his youth. Abducted at age two and not rescued until age ten, he has made it his mission to find the lost. P.I. Charlie McMunn rescued, adopted, raised him and made him a P.I., and that’s the way he likes it. Acey finds him old, sick, and fighting the past but torments him for a job. Webb gives in and hires Acey, sometimes ruing the day.
Together, Web and Tapp examine the cases of the dead hobo and a woman missing for 50 years. Tapp experiences all manner of bad events – imminent eviction, a stolen vehicle, a two-timing lover, scrutiny from the law enforcement agencies in town, and several beatings from thugs. But unlike Job, who remained faithful and steadfast under pressure suffering, Acey rants and raves and worries. Still, he survives and even seems to gain a measure of character strength. Megan Bork, the manager of a combination motel and halfway house for the homeless and the disenfranchised, can see the good under the attitude. She maintains an inner peace that Acey craves, and they eventually bond and work together on solving the cases he is pursuing. It turns out that the two cases may be connected in an interesting way.
Under the influence of his new job, new friends, and a new mentor in Webb Munn, Acey begins to make peace with the obstructions in his life. He begins to refresh his mind and spirit in a better, much-welcomed light. The coming sequels in this series are sure to be excellent.