Although he calls himself a “private inquiry agent,” John Dorn is a shamus in the classic mold. He’s lovelorn, taciturn, drinks too much, and lives in his shabby Melbourne office. Beautiful, dangerous dames don’t arrive at his office; he subsists, barely, on jobs handed to him by his only friend, criminal defense attorney Demetri Stafiakopolous. Initially, THE MIDNIGHT PROMISE seems to be a series of short stories, but in time a story arc emerges that concerns Dorn’s nearly suicidal bid for personal redemption. Lovitt is sure-handed in sketching characters, and he laces Dorn’s cases with sardonic humor and prodigious bits of human frailty. Melbourne and—for many U.S. readers—Australia in general offer an intriguing setting, at once familiar and exotic. Most of Dorn’s Melbourne has been kneecapped by governmental deregulation of business—the same free-market ideology that has proven a disaster worldwide—and the inevitable Bernie Madoff wannabes; once modest but solid Melbourne houses are now “slumped against each other like penguins in the Antarctic.” Fans of international crime fiction will enjoy Dorn and his milieu.