Literary Scene: November
By Ryan G. Van Cleave
Ryan and two Ringling College of Art and Design creative writing majors review three Oceanview titles
by Matt Coyle
reviewed by Ryan G. Van Cleave
Best-selling author Matt Coyle’s fourth installment in the hard-boiled PI Rick Cahill crime novels is engrossing. Blood Truth has what we’ve come to expect from Coyle—a meticulous plot, a brooding atmosphere, plenty of action, and a down-on-his-luck screwup who you can’t help but root for. Cahill’s got that kind of gritty Harry Bosch appeal.
This story begins with a woman asking Cahill for help with a husband who likely is cheating. The issue? The woman is Cahill’s ex and it’s clear she’s likely the love of his life. Things go bad for them both when the Other Woman winds up dead.
Cahill’s own life is made worse when he comes across a long-hidden safe that has clues about why his father got booted from the police force twenty-something years ago before drinking himself to death as a result. The idea of grappling again with those dark memories is not something Cahill wants to deal with.
Tough questions lurk throughout these pages. Will the truth of the Other Woman’s murder bring Cahill’s ex back to him? Will the truth about his father’s past free him of a dark family legacy shame? Will La Jolla ever be a place that Cahill can find happiness? Or redemption?
Coyle’s a fine writer and while this book is far richer if you’ve read the previous three Cahill books, it still works well enough on its own. If you like the books of Michael Connelly or Ross MacDonald, you’ll probably enjoy Blood Truth, too. mattcoylebooks.com
Rating: 4.25/5 Stars
by D.P. Lyle
reviewed by Christian Saenz
This was my first D.P. Lyle book, so I had no idea what to expect from this prolific mystery writer who’s been a California cardiologist for the past 40 years. Would A-List be a thrilling, action-packed mystery, or a cozy, erudite puzzler? Lyle artfully manages to satisfy both types of readers in his latest book featuring ex-athlete private investigator Jake Longly.
A-List is thrilling, because Longly finds himself dodging both mob goons and Hollywood defense attorneys while he investigates the murder of Kristi Guidry, whose body is found in a locked hotel room with Kirk Ford, a movie megastar in town to film an episode of a billion-dollar franchise. Ford claims that he’s been framed despite all evidence to the contrary and he’s worried that his blockbuster sequel—and his entire career—is in jeopardy.
A-List is also cozy, depicting a tight-knight community full of quirky, potential informants who each meet Jake in the French Quarter’s luxury restaurants and bars. The story twists and turns as the case grows stranger the closer it gets to being solved. No matter what Jake does, the truth always seems just out of reach.
Lyle brings New Orleans to life through its lively food culture and a cast of richly-textured characters that both surprise and endear in equal measure. Quippy dialogue peppered with hilarious one-liners helps make this a memorable read. Though it takes a smidge too long to reveal, the clever twist at the climax is delightfully satisfying. dplylemd.com
Rating: 4/5 Stars
by David Putnam
reviewed by Abbigail Thelen
Before becoming a writer, David Putnam served in a number of law enforcement roles: SWAT sniper, FBI violent crimes team, and US Marshal, to name a few. Surely, it’s this depth of experience that gives Putnam’s best-selling book series such riveting, gritty authenticity.
His latest title, The Innocents, is the fifth in the Bruno Johnson series. From the start, Putnam slams you with drama—Bruno’s ex-girlfriend, Marie, surprises him with a newborn that’s his. Now, Bruno must learn to juggle his new responsibility as a father and the increasingly complex situation at work. It’s bad enough that his boss, Lieutenant Wicks, might be involved in a murder-for-hire scheme, but being saddled with a distractingly pretty newbie cop for the investigation?
Putnam’s writing style is fast and direct, leaving lesser details to the audience’s imagination. Another thing of note? Much of the story is dialogue-driven, which puts emphasis on the emotional aspects of this story. It’s not hard to root for this everyman hero who’d do just about anything to bring justice to those who deserve it.
While it’s not mandatory, I’d advise picking up the previous Bruno Johnson thrillers (The Disposables, The Replacements, The Squandered, and The Vanquished), before reading this one. Knowing how Bruno has evolved, and how he stumbled into parenthood, and what mentally broke his ex-girlfriend, will add to the drama and suspense here. All in all, The Innocents is a high-suspense crime thriller worth a read.
Rating: 4/5 Stars