Created by David Levien
Talk about your auspicious debuts.
Obstensibly a private eye procedural, author David Levien's City of the Sun (2008) introduced aging but still formidable former Indianapolis cop FRANK BEHR as he tried to track down twelve-year old Jamie Gabriel who'd been missing for over a year. But what this book really was was really a raw, painful study on grief and loss.
And Jamie's parents, Paul and Carol Gabriel, weren't the only ones hurting here -- Frank himself was still haunted by the loss of his own young son in a tragic accident.
Suffice it to say that it wasn't an easy read, either emotionally or narratively. The book was actually a relentless series of short, pointed jabs; brief, chronological snapshots of lives in freefall, and yet, despite the occasional rough spot author Levien gave us one of the most searing and haunting books to cross this genre in a while; a wide-ranging romp that may take us from a sleepy Indianapolis bedroom town to a grungy Mexican outpost, but never strays far from ground zero of the human heart.
Subsequent books in the series have already more than met expectations -- people get hurt in this series. Hurt bad. And hurt matters. It's not just a glib adjective tossed in to achieve some quota of "grit."
Now, how much more the big lug (Frank stands at 6'5," weighs in at 240 pounds or so and once played football) can stand is open to debate, but for now, I'm more than ready to follow.
Fans of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer or Declan Hughes' Ed Loy would do well to check this new series. And fans of Indianapolis' other significant ete, the decidedly kinder, gentler Albert Samson, might want to grab a few smelling salts before tackling Frank's world.
Highly recommended for those who like their P.I.s with soul.
The New York Times Book Review
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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