Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com
Noelle has been reading The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon
The Last Meridian begins with a great sentence: “The coroner’s wagon had a flat tire.” It was a good hook for this noir detective novel, the author’s first. Unfortunately, for me, it went downhill for a quarter of the book. However, I persevered and eventually became drawn into the story. In the end, it was an enjoyable read.
Hefferon has a good eye for the mid-60s in Los Angeles and Chicago. He sets the scenes in these two cities with just enough detail to let the reader feel the atmosphere and he writes with sparse prose but dialogue varying from snappy to rich, like an overstuffed éclair – reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and even Elmore Leonard. I grew up on old detective movies, and this one just moved me twenty years from the 40’s.
The story begins in Chicago with a murder, then jumps back seventeen years to the exodus of Lynn Killian, who wants to leave her life there behind and embarks on a cross country trip to LA. There she reinvents herself as Nina Ferrer and becomes the interior designer to the rich and famous. The wall she erected around her new life is breached by a telegram from the mother of the boy Nina gave up for adoption sixteen years earlier. No one knows about the boy, not even Nina’s cigar-smuggling, unfaithful husband. Her son is in trouble, and to maintain her façade, Nina hires an out-of-town, wise-cracking, private detective to find out the circumstances of her son’s arrest and murder charge. His dialogue with Nina reminded me of Bogie and Bacall. Nina’s life unravels further when she discovers a friend (a Hollywood-style friendship) and customer, shot in the head and lying on a divan in her Nina-decorated living room. Nina’s character is described through the eyes and experience of an author, who wants to find fame in the story of her life. She is sitting in jail, charged with the murder of her friend, as she tells it.
The author does a good job creating all these various threads and then tying them together, clearly influenced by his 25 years in law enforcement in Newark, New Jersey. The characters are gritty, as is the scenery, but are well drawn.
My difficulty getting into the book was the back and forth in time and place at the beginning. The content of these first chapters only falls into place later, and I ended up re-reading them before I went on. Once I figured out where everyone fit in, the plot carried me forward. There were times when the dialogue became long and unbelievable, but I enjoyed the forays into the minds of the characters.
I strongly recommend this book for readers who like this genre.
A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.
Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe… just maybe… he can save her, too.
Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.
About the author
Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer