Light Before Dark - Christopher Rice
Phew. There were times when I thought that this was the best novel weíve read so far. Itís edgy, contemporary, intriguing, beautifully written, full of gay content, great hero, great premise. But then it sort of lost me. Okay, Iím not particularly into mystery novels, so Iím not really experienced in this genre, but there were so many red-herrings, so many alternative scenarios that I got totally lost and confused and when the denouement came, instead of being hard-hitting it sort of plumped down into my exhausted brain.
Adam is an alcoholic cocaine addict. Not a promising hero. He is recovering from a weird relationship with a man called Corey and from the death of his mother, also an alcoholic. He works for a sleazy gay rag in West LA, wanting to be a proper investigative journalist, actually doing write-ups for underwear ads. His drinking is so out of control he has begun to black out and wake up in places he doesnít know with people he canít remember.
One day a sometime friend comes to him and spills him a story about being thrown out of a car. The man who threw him was a Marine Corps pilot who, the next day, ditched his helicopter into the sea, killing himself and his four crew members. Adam begins to investigate why the married pilot was in West LA with a known porn star in his car.
The twists and turns are quite mind numbing. The more Adam investigates, the more horrific the truth appears to be. It seems to be more intimately concerned with him and his lifestyle than he could ever imagine. He decides to go sober, and just does, the case consuming him. And gradually he begins to grow from the damaged boy he was into something quite special, winning the trust and respect from an eclectic cast of friends along the way.
The characters in the novel are wonderfully drawn. I particularly liked Jimmy the best-selling novelist who hires Adam to research the case.
I couldnít put this book down for the first two thirds. For the last I was struggling with it, not from any fault of the book but from my total inability to keep up with the authorís twists and turns. I found the same in Riceís other book ĎThe Snow Gardení.†
Maybe I just need to give it another go.
This really is an excellent novel and well worth reading, gay or straight.
book wasnít at all what I expected, having just recently enjoyed the distinctly
gothic tones of A DENSITY
OF SOULS, Riceís debut novel set in New Orleans. This one is a thriller
in the mystery genre favoured by the likes of Joseph Hansen.† It features
an openly gay investigative journalist and is set in West Hollywood, heart
of the gay community, then Californiaís Central Valley (between LA and
San Francisco).† Itís a contemporary development of the milieu Dave Brandstetter
found so troubling in his later cases. A land in the grip apparently of
the plague thatís crystal meth addiction, with devastating consequences
to everything it touches.
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