“Steal the Show” by Thomas Kaufman is scheduled to be released July 5th, 2011, so pre-order your copy today. This is the second book in the Willis Gidney mystery series. The first book, “Drink the Tea” won the PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition. I would not be surprised for “Steal the Show” to steal some awards as well.

Thomas Kaufman is not only an author but an Emmy award winning motion picture director and cameraman. He has twice won the Gordon Parks Award for Cinematography. Kaufman has filmed “The FBI Files,” “The Prosecutors,” and “New Detectives” for Discovery and has shot training films for the FBI.

In “Steal the Show”, Kaufman combines both of his talents and writes about what he knows best – film. In this story, Willis Gidney, a private eye, has been hired to find a gang that is pirating movies. Through this plot, we meet actors and actresses, the head of the motion picture industry lobby in Washington, code writing hackers and gangs. This action packed story will keep you riveted turning pages.

While I learned quite a bit about the film industry, loved the plot and appreciated the excellent writing, the main character I found to be the strength of the series.

Through Willis Gidney, Kaufman offers us one of the most compelling Private Eyes in mysteries today. Willis, grew up being shifted from one foster home to another. By the early age of six or seven, Willis was caught stealing money from a Metro fare card and thrown into a “kiddie jail.” There he meets Eddie Vermeer, a ten year old con artist who becomes Willis’ partner and teaches him the ropes. By age twelve, Willis becomes a very successful con man. Willis’ life changes when Captain Shadrack Davis of the DC police becomes his foster father. Despite all of Willis’ efforts to the contrary, Shad, teaches him about ethics and right and wrong. Unfortunately Shad dies trying to protect Willis. Willis joins the police force, but soon finds out that that being a policeman isn’t for him and he becomes a Private Eye.

In short Willis is complex; he breaks the rules, crosses lines, but seems to understand the big picture of good and bad, which makes the reader root for him. He has a huge heart and in this story, he is working hard to earn money to adopt a baby that he rescued. But Child Services wonders if a single man with a job as a private eye is the best family possible for a baby. Willis knows how easy it is for a baby or a child to get lost in the system as he was a victim of it and this side story may show more about the human side of his character than the “main” mystery.

Kaufman writes about the problems of the homeless in DC so well, that he decided to answer the question on his website about whether or not he has ever been homeless himself. Kaufman has not been homeless, but he did shoot an Academy Award nominated feature documentary about the homeless. Kaufman states, “I spent time with Mitch Snyder, an advocate for the homeless who went on a hunger strike to force Congress to find funds for a shelter in DC. I’ve also shot with homeless veterans. What I’ve learned is that anyone can wind up on the streets. The distance between where you are right now and living on the street is shorter than you might imagine.”

Kaufman addresses this issue deftly. The reader doesn’t feel preached to or uplifted necessarily. He treats it like it is. Willis is a man who is beating the odds based on his background but is still scarred by it.

I strongly recommend this book.

Five Stars out of Five.


In accordance with the FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge.  I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review.  All they expect is an honest review of the work.