Second city, first rate

Certain novels have that quality of sliding off the top of the head. Expertly written and plotted, they have nothing more on their mind than entertaining you. “Half the Truth” is just such a book. Chicago private detective Malachy Foley is a 90s kind of P.I.: hard-boiled but sensitive. He’s got a knack for finding trouble, a desire to help and an ex-wife he would like to win back. Unfortunately for him, the three are not compatible.

In this follow-up to the Edgar-nominated “Fixed in His Folly,” Foley must find a college basketball player who went missing shortly after his roommate was found attempting to cross Lake Michigan in his sports car. During his search, Foley encounters several pacifist-challenged men who have the same idea, and the case turns threatening when his client and ex-wife are kidnapped and held for ransom. “Half the Truth” is a cat-and-mouse game with high stakes, punctuated by tense encounters that threaten to explode at any time. Sometimes, they do.

“Half the Truth” was fun to read, enlivened by Foley’s unconventional ways of attracting attention, and his strong desire to see justice done. He’s also a nut case, whether tearing up one thug’s fake parking ticket or doing exercises in a lawyer’s high-toned reception room. If Bill Murray could adopt Foley’s mournful demeanor, he’d fit this Second City P.I.’s M.O. to a tee.