Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #crime The Last Meridian by @HefferonJoe

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon

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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.

Book Description

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

Joe Hefferon

Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

 

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Last meridian by @HefferonJoe Noir #crime #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon

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THE LAST MERIDIAN by Joe Hefferon

4.5 stars

The past is a stone – you can carry it around with you, or you can step up on it to see what’s coming over the next hill’.

The Last Meridian is a crime novel set in the 1960s, in the ‘noir’ sub-genre; it’s not one I’ve explored before, and somewhere near the beginning I realised I should read it out loud, leaning against a lamp-lit wall down a dark alley, wearing a fedora and smoking a French cigarette.  I imagined this; it really did make the dialogue work!

In the first chapter in 1948, a girl drives away from Illinois, along Route 66, heading for LA.  We don’t know why, but Lynn becomes Nina, and starts a new career as an interior designer for the stars. Meanwhile, back in 1965, a man associated with the underworld is murdered, and the murder is witnessed by the teenage son of the victim’s girlfriend.  Nina’s involvement in this is one I didn’t guess at all, and, as the mother of the boy tries to save her son, a private detective called CS and a journalist/writer called Jimmy are brought in, centre stage.

The book took a short while to gel for me as there are a lot of characters to remember, at the beginning, but before 10% I’d settled into the back-and-forth-in-time structure, and begun to really enjoy it.  Mr Hefferon is masterful at creating atmosphere, and I loved the cynical, seedy crime/Hollywood characters.  I especially liked some of the short backstories; that of CS, and mother Larissa, in particular.  The character I found the most interesting was Jimmy, and I liked the extracts from his manuscript, and his philosophical pondering… ‘in some cross-layered way, each of us is the supporting cast for all of us … how do we arrive at the places where our lives mesh with the people we need for our own narrative?’.  

…I liked the observations about the people, fashions and culture: ‘Beards, shaggy hair and abraded clothing were just becoming the craze of the anti-establishment, yet this juvenile bandito remained stuck in 1958, unconcerned with change.  He had chosen his look … he would wear it proudly until time and prison sucked the black from his mane’.

…about the locations: ‘No one with any style lives in Bakersfield … it’s all money and no pizazz.  What kind of claim is ‘Halfway to Fresno’?

….and about Nina’s dysfunctional marriage: ‘In a lovers’ paradox, they found each other attractive at different times, but never at the same time… it was a marriage of inconvenience’.

Joe Hefferon is an intelligent and talented writer, and I hope he is as proud of this clever and delightfully atmospheric novel as he should be.

The novel ends at around 90%, after which there is an author’s note, acknowledgements, and an excerpt from another novel from the same publishing company.

Book Description

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

Joe Hefferon

Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Last Meridian by @HefferonJoe #Noir #Crime

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Last Meridian by Joe Hefferon

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Lynn Killian left Chicago in 1948. She wanted a new life in a new place with a new name. With no particular plan in mind she headed west. Who she left behind would never really leave her. She would always wonder.

Fast forward sixteen years and Jimmy Filkins, a reporter captivated and preoccupied by the thought of his ongoing project. A story he desperately wants to write based on his interviews with Nina Ferrer, interior designer to Hollywood’s elite. Nina’s story, as she recounts it to Filkins, begins with murder and a telegram. That telegram changes her life forever. Her now teenaged son, who she left behind in Chicago all those years ago is in desperate trouble. The events set in motion culminated with Nina being incarcerated and the interviews with Filkins taking place in what was known locally as the LA County lock up.

Alongside Nina’s account and the flashbacks leading to her present situation, are the activities of several other key players and how they all converge. Nina’s husband, Arturo, and his shady contact, Morris Canfield. CS, the private investigator hired by Nina to help Steven, the boy accused of murder and, of course, Jimmy Filkins. Recounting the previous months helps Nina to come to terms with what her life has become.

Initially the structure threw me a little. Not sure why because I normally quite like flashbacks driving a story. Maybe because the sections were mostly short, the timeline seemed disjointed and I wasn’t able to engage enough. Anyway, I reread the first 10% or so and it became much clearer and easier to follow. The narrative continued to swing back and forth between past and present, timelines and characters, but I’m glad to say it wasn’t confusing any longer. I was more at ease with the writing style and could settle in to the story.

The setting is 1960s Hollywood and, along with the associated superficiality, the time and place is evident. Once I was over that first hurdle I enjoyed the story and the way Nina’s background unfolded. Her desperation to vindicate her son served to open her eyes to the people around her, who she thought she could trust, and made her realise how futile her life had become. Perhaps it could also become her salvation.

Nina grew on me, she’s strong and forthright. The supporting characters are also well-rounded. The prose tends towards the lyrical (if that’s the right word), with snappy dialogue, which seems in keeping with the narrative.

 

Book Description

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

Joe Hefferon

Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter