Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: Red Line by Brian Thiem

Red Line
Author: Brian Thiem
Series: A Detective Matt Sinclair Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (August 11, 2015)

Description: When a teenager from a wealthy suburb outside of Oakland, CA is dumped at an inner city bus stop, homicide detective Matt Sinclair catches the case. It's his first since being bumped to desk duty for a bust that went south... fast. With few leads and plenty of attention, it's the worst kind of case to help him get back up to speed. And it only gets worse as the bodies start to pile up--first at the same bus bench, then around the city. Sinclair is unable to link the victims to each other, but the killer is just getting started and time is running out on Sinclair's career, not to mention the people closest to him.

With Red Line, Brian Thiem, a veteran of the Oakland police department and the Iraq war, has written a nuanced police procedural in the vein of Michael Connelly, filled with the kind of insight that could only be written by a detective who has walked the streets and lived the life.

My Thoughts: RED LINE was an excellent police procedural with an engaging main character. Matt Sinclair is just back on homicide after a variety of difficulties - shooting a suspect, an arrest for drunk driving, and a stint in rehab.

Matt's first case is that of a teenage boy found dead at a bus stop outside a hospital. The boy was a straight arrow from a neighboring and wealthy suburb. His father is a surgeon at the hospital. Matt also finds himself saddled with a rookie female partner. When a second body is dumped at the same bus stop, Matt and his partner spend hours trying to find anything that connects them. Both cases bring back another case of Matt's. A couple of girls were left at that same bus stop two years previously. One wandered in her dazed state into traffic and died as a result of being hit by cars. Matt was too deep into his alcoholism at the time to devote as much time to the case as he should have.

What this book shows in great detail is the day to day slog of police work - the interviews, the reports, the need to put various small bits of information together to build a case. We follow Matt as he works this case and deals with supervisors who want to force him out of homicide and a girl friend who is a television reporter whose job often puts them in conflict. We see Matt dealing with the long hours and high stress of the investigation and we see him struggling with the desire to take a drink.

Chapters from the murderers point of view add some real creepiness to the story too. This was a well-plotted mystery. I had no idea who the criminal was until Matt and the other detectives figured it out.

Fans of police procedurals will greatly enjoy this fast-paced, well-plotted story. I look forward to more from this debut author.

Favorite Quote:
Over drinks at the Warehouse that night, Phil said, "Sitting at this bar are the only two people in the world who care about finding out who killed this young man. In homicide, we speak for the dead. It's a lonely and thankless job and an awesome responsibility." But Sinclair knew it was about more than just the victim. A murderer could not be allowed to kill and walk the streets freely. When people can kill with impunity, society crumbles. He want to tell Phil how it often felt like they were the only ones standing between civilization and anarchy and how that lonely and thankless responsibility was even more awesome than merely speaking for the dead but was afraid that his partner wouldn't understand.
I got this book for review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice review. Your favorite quote is the essence of Sinclair's character--the reason he accepted the calling as a homicide detective. I'm glad you noticed it.


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