By Daniel Pyne
Rating: 4/5 Stairs
Catalina Eddy is comprised of three independent novellas set in Southern California, across three different time periods. While each story has loose ties to the previous one, they are all set in different cities and told from different points of view.
The Big Empty follows a private detective in Los Angeles in 1954. His estranged wife is murdered, and he is determined to find her killer. This story felt like a trip back in time to the days of noir, and reminded me of the feeling of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia. In terms of setting, this was my favorite of the three stories.
Next up is Losertown, which is a very different story from The Big Empty. The setting moves to San Diego in 1987, and our main character in this outing is an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He’s big on flipping smaller criminals dealing drugs and moving up the ladder to get to the big fish. But his new boss has different ideas of who the big fish is, and soon he finds himself in the middle of a moral dilemma.
Lastly we move into modern day as we visit Long Beach in Portuguese Bend. This one had an interesting twist to your typical detective story – it is seen through the eyes of a forensic photographer. When an undercover cop is shot, the photographer ends up pursuing a case that may have ties inside the department.
I enjoyed the three stories, and Mr. Pyne did a good job transporting me to the 1950s and 1980s for the first two mysteries. The three tales were independent, each with their own characters, but the later mysteries did have nods to characters from the previous stories.
I must say that in all three novellas, I found that I didn’t care as much for the mystery piece, but more about the character’s journey. Each story arc finds the main character facing a personal crisis or dilemma. Their struggle is what makes the story compelling and the pages turn. I also enjoyed the little connections to characters in the previous tales – sometimes learning their fate, other times just a random connection. Just an occasional Easter Egg subtly sprinkled in; blink, and you’ll miss the connection.
If you are a fan of crime novels, you will enjoy this collection. I think across the three stories there is a little something for everyone, each tale is unique in voice and style.
Many thanks to First to Read for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.