Gregg Hurwitz is known primarily as a writer of thrillers. So
the release of THE CRIME WRITER, which (apparently) is a
stand-alone work, comes as a bit of a surprise, though an
interesting and, ultimately, a welcome one. It incorporates
Hurwitz's trademark elements --- strong and occasionally quirky
characters, realistic dialogue and a propelling, compelling story
--- with a double-barreled mystery.
THE CRIME WRITER begins with Drew Danner, a mystery author of
some renown, awakening in a hospital bed, accused of killing his
ex-fiancée and with no idea of whether or not he is guilty.
Acquitted by reason of insanity, Danner sets out to methodically
reconstruct what occurred on the night of the murder. His
investigation has hardly begun, however, before another woman is
slain under horrifyingly similar circumstances, with the evidence
again pointing to Danner as the perpetrator.
Danner's investigation takes on a new urgency, as it becomes
apparent that someone is trying to frame him. He is aided by a
group of interesting friends and acquaintances --- an ex-baseball
player of some unfortunate notoriety, a quirky editor and a police
laboratory technician, among others --- but he keeps running into
dead ends, even as he is plagued with self-doubt regarding his own
guilt or innocence. The reader is kept guessing, leading up to a
number of surprise revelations --- it's almost impossible to figure
out all of them in advance of the conclusion --- and a
satisfactory, if not wholly unexpected, resolution.
Hurwitz has a fine eye for background detail, and setting THE
CRIME WRITER in Los Angeles, his city of residency, gives him
the opportunity to provide the reader with some interesting back
street triptychs that you won't get from the double-decker tour
buses. Hurwitz also merges elements of himself with his
protagonist, providing an interesting variation on breaking down
the literary equivalent of the fourth wall. His combination of
classic crime noir elements --- Los Angeles, multiple suspects, a
compelling mystery --- and a unique narrative format and characters
make THE CRIME WRITER a must-read.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 28, 2010