Twilight’s All Right

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Tyler Dilts’ Come Twilight is the sixth and final nominee for review in the Best Paperback Original category up for an Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America. Danny Beckett makes his fourth appearance in the Long Beach series as a homicide detective who has lost much to violence: his father when Danny was a boy; his wife Megan when they were still newlyweds; and his physical health, resulting in chronic pain stemming from an earlier accident.

The book opens with Danny having to leave his new girlfriend Julia’s place (they were binge-watching Downton Abbey) to respond to an apparent suicide–suicide quickly becomes murder when Danny discovers the right-handed victim, William Denkins, has a GSW in his left temple and a gun in his left hand. Denkins is the owner/manager of the apartment building where he’s found dead, and Danny and his partner Jen line up several possible suspects, one of whom is a guy with the alias Maru who lives in the building. Problem is, Maru is missing. Another possible suspect is Denkins’ son-in-law Joe, who has several failed business ventures to his credit and money owed to his father-in-law. Complications ensue: Maru is found dead; Danny’s car–sans Danny–explodes from a car bomb; and Danny is kidnapped, beaten, and threatened by a mystery man. Dilts keeps the pages turning and the pressure mounts to solve these various threads.

Danny is a likeable character who eschews hipsters (although girlfriend Julia seems to be of that ilk–a photographer with a social service past) and exhibits the common adrenaline-infused intensity of mystery novel cops wrestling with a difficult case. When Danny’s boss takes him off the case because the car bomb and his kidnapping begin to have links to the Denkins case, Danny strains at the leash. His partner Jen is pissed at him for not following orders and everyone around him thinks he’s acting weird. But as is often the case, Danny finds the piece of information to knit the disparate threads and the ending satisifies. Somewhat.

A few criticisms of the writing include an irritating change in point of view when Danny is kidnapped and knocked unconscious, and the reader is taken through the following scenes as a flashback told by Danny from Jen’s point of view. Awkward.  There is also the matter of many, many pop references which will probably not stand up to the test of time. And not to put too fine a point on it, Dilts borders on questionable product placement (one wonders whether he’s being paid to advertise) when he repeatedly mentions specific podcasts that Danny listens to. Annoying. (Also, a minor quibble but a puzzling one: the names of the chapters don’t seem to correspond to anything in the chapter. Are they names of songs? Not clear).

Otherwise, the book is an enjoyable read, enough so that it seems probable the Danny Beckett series will continue with future offerings. On a scale of one to ten, this book rates a five.

The six novels reviewed and rated for Best Paperback Original:

  • Rain Dogs (8)
  • A Brilliant Death (6)
  • Come Twilight (5)
  • Heart of Stone/Shot in Detroit tied (4)
  • The 7th Canon (2)

My prediction (and I’m in good company with my writing pal Karen Burgess http://www.litlunchbox.com) for the Edgar Award in the Best Paperback Original Category will be Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty. The Edgars will be announced on April 27th.

Book Lovers’ Spring Training

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Those of us in the freezing Midwest anxiously await when baseball players report for spring training because it signals a thaw, and intimates hot summer days quaffing cold beer and cheering when a player cranks one out of the ballpark. Likewise, when Mystery Writers of America announces the 2017 nominees for the annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards, it signals a spring of sorts: a fresh batch of books for the lover of mystery novels, multiple categories from which to choose, and enough titles to be relished all summer while quaffing a cold beer and cheering when a writer hits the proverbial home run.

This year I will read and review 11 books in two categories:

Best Novel:

  1. The Ex by Alafair Burke
  2. Where it Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman
  3. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
  4. What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin
  5. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Best Original Paperback:

  1. Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott
  2. Come Twilight by Tyler Dilts
  3. The 7th Canon by Robert Dugoni
  4. Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty
  5. A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum
  6. Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin

Each novel will receive a ranking on a scale of one to ten after its review, and I will predict each winner in the above-named categories. MWA announces the winners on April 27th. My writing buddy, Karen Burgess, is already several books ahead of me with her Literary Lunchbox blog reviews of the Edgars. In her annual attempt at the same feat, Karen is more ambitious than I am (and a devotee of Evelyn Wood speed reading, I suspect), reading and reviewing an additional category, Best First Novel, for a total of 17 books. Sometimes we agree in our estimations, sometimes we arrive at completely opposite opinions regarding the same book. Either way, we both love reading and writing, and enjoy a great friendship as a result. We hope our friendly competition provides you with entertaining reviews and new writers to investigate.