Review

The Blue Cheer

by Ed Lynskey

There exists a false premise --- implied, but real nonetheless
--- that noir detective fiction must be limited to metropolitan
settings; that only big cities, preferably on a coast, contains the
requisite breadth of plot and cast of characters required for the
genre. A number of novels shows this not to be true: THE LAST GOOD
KISS by James Crumley and THE ICE HARVEST by Scott Phillips
immediately come to mind --- and now, THE BLUE CHEER by Ed
Lynskey.


This book is set in rural West Virginia and features the return of
Frank Johnson, Lynskey’s bloodied but unbowed PI. Johnson has
moved to Scarab, West Virginia, hoping to leave the tumult he
experienced in Virginia behind him while he leads a quiet
day-to-day existence in the middle of nowhere. All is well until a
mid-air explosion occurs literally above his head one night.
Johnson quickly discovers that the cause of the fireworks is a
Stinger missile, but his self-congratulations is short-lived due to
his being knocked out almost immediately.


When he comes to his senses, the evidence is gone and his car has
been vandalized. The local police have little interest in
Johnson’s report and in fact go to extraordinary lengths to
discourage him. Old Man Maddox, Johnson’s enigmatic friend
and neighbor, is there to help, along with Robert Gaitlin, a
crackerjack defense attorney whose abilities don’t end in the
courtroom. Their assistance, however, may not be enough against the
Blue Cheer, a racist organization that has taken root in the West
Virginia hills and appears to have connections even in the most
unexpected places.


Johnson’s unofficial --- and officially unpopular ---
investigation seems to point to the Blue Cheer as the source of the
Stinger launch that exploded over his yard, and he quickly comes to
realize that the group has far more in mind than some innocent
target practice. Johnson finds himself in a race against time that
is played out against the isolated and dangerous backdrop of the
West Virginia hills, even as he learns that his enemies have allies
who he never would have expected.


THE BLUE CHEER may well be the novel that brings Lynskey the
attention he deserves. Though the book starts slowly, he
demonstrates soon enough that he is capable of catching readers
totally off-guard. Lynskey also is not one to shy away from
controversy, and before the story ends, he touches on an issue of
racial politics --- not a simple topic by any means --- that is
rarely raised or discussed but that is integral to one of the
novel’s more challenging subplots. His talent runs deep and
dark, revealed full force in a tale you will not forget.


   









Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

The Blue Cheer
by Ed Lynskey

  • Publication Date: April 30, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: PointBlank
  • ISBN-10: 0809556677
  • ISBN-13: 9780809556670