Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Compelling story and main character
Cons: A tad slow in spots
The Bottom Line:
Is Drew a killer?
He certainly wants to know
And you will, also

Is the Crime Writer a Killer or Trapped in a Plot?

Here's proof that author appearances sell books.  I probably wouldn't have even given Gregg Hurwitz a second glance if I just ran into his name on the bookshelf.  He writers thrillers, and I don't normally read them.  But I met him at a couple of mystery events and liked him enough as a person I had to give one of his books a try.  Captivated by the premise, I chose The Crime Writer.  I'm glad I did.

Four months ago, mystery novelist Drew Danner woke up in a hospital bed.  He'd just had emergency surgery to have a brain tumor removed after he was found having a seizure next to the body of his ex-fiancee.  He was tried for his ex's murder, and after four months released on a plea of temporary insanity.

Less than twenty-four hours after his release, another woman is murdered in the same way as Drew's ex.  Naturally, the police are back at his door.  This time, the victim is someone Drew has never met.  Did he commit another murder?  Is he going insane?  Or is he being framed?

Maybe I just listened to the hype and reviews of this book too much, but I didn't find it as much of a thriller as I thought I would.  Don't get me wrong, I was entertained the entire way through the book.  But it felt more like a traditional mystery than a thriller to me.   We didn't know the villain until the end, for example.  But maybe I'm just letting my exposure in movies and TV color my definition.

The mystery itself was pretty complex.  It was partially a police procedural as Drew uses his various police contacts made doing the research for his novels to help him get information.  But ultimately, it was Drew who gets the clues he needs to solve the crime, and the climax was completely surprising.

Even more importantly, I liked Drew.  I got the drive to prove to himself above all that he has never committed a murder.  And that drive kept me going more than any plot twist could have.  Along the way we get to meet some great friends including an ex-baseball player, a coroner, and a juvenile delinquent.  The kid came close to being a caricature when we first met him, but all of them felt very real to me by the end of the book.

The first person narration makes us a very real part of the story.  I did find the writing a bit melancholy most of the time, but that is in keeping with the hard times that Drew is suffering through.

The Crime Writer was an original book that kept me entertained.  It might be darker than my normal choices, but I am going to have to check out Gregg Hurwitz again soon.

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