Although there won’t be any spoilers in the murder mystery Shadows over Summer Starlight by Thomson Woods, there will be lots of information in this first paragraph. First, there is a remarkable, completely surprise ending (for me). I didn’t have one clue as to “who done it.” Given the somewhat slow pace of the book, the conclusion was startling. The second information bit is about the title. There is private homicide detective Jaxon V. Shadeaux. Work with the pronunciation, compare it to the title and move on to the next sentence. Summer Starlight from the title refers to a boyband. There are five members of the band but in chapter one we lose Benjiro. From there on the boyband membership decreases steadily.
There are questions. Were the deaths murders or suicides? As far as Shadeaux is concerned, they had better be murders because Shadeaux only does murders. He takes no other kind of cases. When record company owner CK Klein offers to hire Shadeaux as an investigator of Benjiro’s death, Klein makes it clear that the death should be ruled suicide, the insurance payout to the record company would be more. The struggling record company needs the money. Shadeaux needs the money. Even Lt. Faro, the official police homicide detective, needs the money.
Shadeaux accepts the case and immediately zeros in on the other four members of the band. Following the accepted rule in murder investigations, proximity gives a high probability of guilt, Shadeaux begins to interview the usual suspects. After all, this is why Shadeaux only accepts homicide cases. Murder investigations follow one path; the work is easy. His task becomes more difficult as the boyband members die one after the other. Benjiro died from a drug overdose but he did not use drugs. Art dies from a bullet to the brain and it would have been very difficult for a suicide to fire a bullet from the discovered trajectory. Paul dies in a bed he shared with his girlfriend; she went to the bathroom while he was gutted by a knife. Luc is encouraged to kill himself. We are left only with Thad. The reader is led along a path expected to end in Thad’s death. This is where the novel gets really interesting.
And, on the negative side, what is not interesting? One example should be sufficient illustration.
Innocence is a fine line waiting to be crossed by those bold enough to tempt its boundaries. Guilt is the first few steps past that line, and cowardice is the first few steps before it. And insane is when you walk so far before or past that line that you can no longer see it. That’s the burden of our lives. To walk this fine line of innocence like a proverbial tightrope, taut with societal pressure, internal struggle, and personal pride. (Kindle Locations 232-235).
This kind of general philosophizing appears at the beginning almost every chapter. It annoyed me because I wanted to read the story. This type of mental wandering was a price I had to pay to read the story. After more chapters than it should have taken, I skipped the first few paragraphs of each chapter. They didn’t affect the story. This novel is the first in a series titled the “L.A. series.” I like it enough to look for others in the series. My question is: “Is there any way I could encourage the author to stop the generalizing?”