The earlier books in the Long Beach homicide series were as much about physical and psychological pain as they were police procedurals. ‘A King Of Infinite Space’ was hard-edged and fast flowing, written with considerable flair. ‘The Pain Scale’ was mature, modern noir which explored the consequences of a debilitating injury and chronic pain – how that might warp the personality of the protagonist and influence every aspect of his investigation. Then I somehow missed one (‘A Cold And Broken Hallelujah’) but was delighted when ‘Come Twilight’ crossed my path. However…
…it’s very different to the first two books in the series. The bitter twist has pretty much vanished. This is no longer noir but instead is straightforward procedural. It’s a murder mystery, certainly, but it’s a long way from hardboiled (over-easy, maybe?). Detective Danny Beckett has lost his anguished edge. He’s in a comfortable relationship, heading towards a safe place. And although the events of the novel are intended to push him back towards the brink, to stress his new relationship and the long-term bond with his police partner, it felt far less emotionally challenging than the previous episodes. If you read Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels then there’s a definite parallel: the first two Long Beach books had a lot in common with the original Berlin Noir trilogy; bleakly balanced on the perilous edge of despair. ‘Come Twilight’ is more like the current Bernie books; not quite cosy – yet – but definitely less challenging.
Author Tyler Dilts still delivers an engaging narrative, populated with well-developed three-dimensional characters and backed up by credible policing procedures. His writing is still clean and crisp. But the plot didn’t really convince me this time – and I’m afraid the major plot development came as no surprise. This book also felt quite a bit longer than the previous ones, yet seemed to deliver less. Five years ago, I applauded ‘Infinite Space’ for avoiding much of the padding which can afflict crime fiction – the need to list every single meal, every sandwich, every item of clothing, every seatbelt click, and so on. Can’t say the same about ‘Twilight’, more’s the pity.
Solidly workmanlike crime fiction, then; reliable, not so risky. Hence it fell rather flat for me.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Come Twilight by Tyler Dilts is available in paperback and ebook
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