.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, February 04, 2007

For Edgar by Sheldon Rusch

For Edgar by Sheldon Rusch. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2005. ISBN: 0-425-20409-X

I suppose one COULD describe this book as a police procedural tracking a serial killer. But to leave it at that would leave out most of what makes the book memorable, if memorable it is. The Edgar referred to in the title is, of course, Edgar Allen Poe. And each gruesome murder is set up to emulate, to pay homage to one of Poe's equally gruesome tales. First "The Gold Bug," then "The Black Cat," followed by "The Murders on the Rue Morgue," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and for a flamboyant finale, "The Masque of the Red Death."

Our detective, policewoman, actually, is a 30-something lover of jazz. The music is one of the redeeming factors in the story, in my view, as the author provides what is essentially a soundtrack for the story, always letting us know what our detective is listening to as she goes along. John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, even Ella Fitzgerald, these are some of the jazz greats whose music accompanies our detective as she makes her rounds.

And that's not the only musical connection in the story. The victims, it turns out, like to sing, karaoke, especially. And they are all about the same age as the detective. So we surmise almost from the beginning that she too, will ultimately be a victim, either by accident, or by intent, perhaps setting herself up to bait a trap. Ultimately, it's more the former (accident), than the latter, although there is some of both involved.

For a first novel, which the dust jacket proclaims this to be, it's darn good writing. Eminently readable, the narrative effortlessly carries you along, keeps you turning the pages. It's a quick and easy read, entertaining from start to finish. My primary complaint regards the final twist at the end, which was 1) fairly predictable; I had a pretty good hunch about it, well before it happened and 2) severely strained my sense of disbelief, since it contradicted much of the physical evidence previously presented, and suddenly required us to believe in two killers, working together, instead of one. Didn't pass the believability test, in my view.

Nevertheless, semi-enthusiastically recommended, especially for mystery readers who are also fans of Poe's tales of the macabre.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home