Debut novelist Matt Coyle is a modern-day Raymond Chandler. His new hard-boiled crime series introduces Rick Cahill, who seeks redemption from the haunting echo of his wife’s murder eight years ago. He was acquitted of Colleen’s homicide but not exonerated. Rick is a former cop and the son of a cop forced off the La Jolla PD force 25 years ago. He carries more baggage than a major airline. “I’m sure some shrink would tell me I was trying to make up for past sins.”
Angela Albright is married to San Diego’s mayor, a rising political star. She held “off middle age with the help of a personal trainer and a plastic surgeon.” She stumbles --- literally --- into Muldoon’s, the restaurant Rick manages and someday hopes to own in neighboring tony La Jolla. Rick, however, doesn’t notice her, and instead checks out Melody Malana, whose “skin had taken the sun and turned it into dark caramel. Black slingback heels showed off her legs.”
"Debut novelist Matt Coyle is a modern-day Raymond Chandler. His new hard-boiled crime series introduces Rick Cahill, who seeks redemption from the haunting echo of his wife’s murder eight years ago."
The debonair man, Peter Stone, walks in. “The suit had to be Italian and fit him like a two-thousand-dollar suit should. I said hello. He didn’t say anything. He looked past me like I wasn’t there.” Peter is looking for Melody, who doesn’t want to be seen. She slips out of Rick’s café --- and into his bed.
Perhaps it’s coincidence that local news ace Heather Ortiz reports about San Diego murder victim Adam Windsor, an ex-con who happens to be Melody’s ex. So why does La Jolla Detective Tony Moretti investigate a homicide outside his jurisdiction? Predictably, Rick gets tangled in a web of thin blue lines. La Jolla Police Chief Raymond Parks befriends Rick and tries to help him, but “looked at me like I was something he’d just blown into a handkerchief.”
Adam had the key to the mystery but is dead, and Melody now holds it. Only it’s not symbolic, it fits a storage locker --- one holding videos that can cause worlds to collide. When Rick asks, Melody “looked exactly the way someone telling the truth would look. Exactly the way someone lying would try to look, too. It was one or the other. I just didn’t know which.”
Someone drugs Rick’s black Labrador, Midnight, and searches his home. An odor from that lingers, “the stench of my life being violated.” There’s only one person he can trust with Man’s Best Friend --- the person who gifted Midnight on Rick’s 30th birthday, Kim Connelly, “my most recent ex-girlfriend, but still close.”
Melody, however, has occupied his mind and bed of late: “Was it just the sex? Or the need to be needed again? No, I’d already had that with Kim. The only true friend I had left. Colleen had been the only woman I’d ever loved. Kim was on the wrong end of our friendship. I took, she gave. I was an albatross around her neck. First, by breaking up with her, and then staying just close enough by so she’d hold out hope and never move on. Now, I’d put her in real danger.”
The plot thickens like California fog, and in that gray murk, Rick sees the light. He realizes he’s been had and reminds us that “Life moves forward, but the reverberations chase after you like yesterday’s echo.”
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on June 7, 2013