by S. J. Rozan
Series: Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #6
Hardcover, 276 pg.
Minotaur Books, 1999
Read: March 3, 2015I feel a little awkward about this one, because I haven’t found (read: made) the time to review the previous book in the series, but I just finished this one and didn’t want to put it off, in case I forgot the experience. So far, the Bill Smith novels in this series haven’t thrilled me — they’re interesting, they deliver what they promise, it’s fun to see these two from a different perspective, etc. But I just don’t like them as much as the Lydia Chin novels.
Until now. (you saw that coming, didn’t you?)
And honestly, reading the book jacket copy saying that Rozan had won two pretty prestigious awards, both for Bill Smith books befuddled and annoyed me. But I think I’m over that now.
Like the other Bill novels, Rozan tends to get a bit more writer-y, more noir-ish, a bit more moody than the Lydia novels which tend to be more plot and character-driven.
We’re not in New York City this time — Bill’s been hired to work for someone upstate near the fishing cabin he retreats to from time to time. So we’re plunged into a new world — a world Bill is familiar with, but a stranger to. The case he’s investigating is quickly overshadowed by other events that concern people Bill’s semi-close to, and it’s not long before the bodies start to pile up, the secrets and lies start to get exposed, and Bill is repeatedly assaulted. Small town politics, police corruption, corporate — and garden variety — criminals are everywhere, and a few (relatively) innocent people are caught up in it all.
There’s been some progress/advancement/development/insert your own word in both the professional and personal relationships between Bill and Lydia, that’s obvious. But it’s all happening between the books — which is an interesting way to go about it, keeps the books focused on the mysteries and from changing into something else. Not that I’d necessarily mind what it changed into (and still may), but I appreciate the approach.
Something about Stone Quarry — and, no, I can’t tell you what, I wish I could — struck home with me — the ambiance, the characters, Bill’s reactions, the story, the strong sense of place (and the tie between the characters and the place) — in a way that nothing else in this series has. In reading breaks between the last few chapters, for some reason my mind when to the experience of reading Lehane’s A Drink before the War and Parker’s A Savage Place. Neither one of those books, or this one, have much in common at all — but they all left me feeling the same way. There’s a bit of melancholy, a sense of dissatisfaction (with the events — not the book), yet knowing that the author put you right where he/she wanted you the whole time and brought you to those feelings. Now, I don’t think this book is as good as those two (which is not a criticism, almost nothing can touch those two for me), but this was really satisfying.