Two short reviews by our new collaborator, L'Etranger.
I finished reading Beach Strip by John Lawrence Reynolds and it is a fantastic book. It is set in what we know to be Hamilton area, although never identified, near a strip of once pristine beach that many of the steel magnates used for their summer getaways 100 years ago. But the gentry have moved on and the beach strip has a bit of faded glory about it.
In a nice house on the strip live Josie and Gabe Marshall. Gabe is a detective on the local force and Josie works part-time as a bookkeeper at a local long-term care facility. Her mom is there after a stroke has left her unable to speak. At the beginning of the book Josie gets a call from her husband Gabe who wants her to come home so they can make love on the beach. Josie loves Gabe but right now she has a secret that is weighing her down. So even though it is a short walk from work to their home she delays and arrives much later than Gabe wanted her to. When she gets there the beach is cordoned off, cops are everywhere, and Gabe’s partner Mel pulls her aside to tell her Gabe has committed suicide on the beach. Josie is devastated but she can’t believe Gabe would do this. But the evidence seems overwhelming and the police soon close the case. Then another burnt-out cop takes his own life. Josie refuses to give up and she bugs Mel to continue to investigate while she begins to do her own digging.
I won’t say any more about the plot but I will say I sped through this. It is not a cozy mystery but very noir. Josie and Gabe are not perfect people; they have baggage. It is this baggage that helps muddle Josie. Plus, the good guys and bad guys are very grey (no white hats or black hats here) and the ending is a shocker.
For fans of Reynolds, a past Arthur Ellis Award winner, this will be a treat. At 274 pages, it is not a very long book but Reynolds takes maximum advantage of the space he uses and his prose is perfect. It is a literary read that should get rave reviews. For those unfamiliar with Reynolds’s work, good comparisons are to Gilles Blunt and Linwood Barclay.