Local color abounds in “The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom,” a coming-of-age story set in Depression-era St. Louis told by Aaron, an innocent 12-year-old who “dectifies” to unravel a jewelry store crime.
The action in A.E. Hotchner’s newest begins when Aaron’s pop, a down-on-his-luck Polish immigrant who peddles Bulova watches, presses a buzzer to enter the J & J Jewelers. A thug pushes his way in, a shooting ensues, and Aaron’s father is jailed as a material witness.
Now Aaron is truly alone, his mom in the Fee Fee Sanitarium for consumption. With nowhere to lay his head the boy settles for a hammock in Hooverville down by the Eads Bridge. A lawyer takes pity on Aaron and explains his pop’s dilemma. He’ll be incarcerated until the killer is found.
Aaron, a Sherlock Holmes fan, turns over every rock to discover the killer, his sidekick a “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” paperboy.
Readers will embrace this caper. Abundant nods to St. Louis will awaken nostalgia in locals who’ll be craving a sack of White Castle burgers at Forest Park with a bottle of grape Nehi, followed by shopping at Scruggs Vandervort and Barney, and a shower with Lifebuoy.