I’ve GOT to get to the Edgar nominees for Best First Novel. I hate to admit it, I’ve been putting it off because reading, reviewing and ranking is just so much work. In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself with “fun” books – including S.J. Rozan’s On the Line.
I’ve been a big fan of Rozan’s Bill Smith/Lydia Chin series (one of which was an Edgar Winner, Winter and Night) and this one sure doesn’t disappoint. A bad guy from Bill’s past has snatched Lydia and is keeping her captive, while making Bill solve puzzles in a battle of wits that will probably end with Lydia’s death. On hand to assist is aunt Mary (of the NYPD), resourceful Millennial generation cousin Linus and his girl-crush, Trella. Oh, and a couple of Chinese mobsters.
The book is fast-paced and fun and while you never really believe Rozan will kill Lydia off, the suspense and “what’s going to happen next?” kept me barreling through it. The plot is strong enough that first-time readers won’t miss Lydia, who has a minimal role in this book. It’s sort of like a drama when a main character goes off to make a movie – she’s in a scene or two, mostly by phone. Something she can phone in.
But for long time readers who know that Lydia and Bill have an on-again, off-again romantic relationship, the ending is particularly satisfying. The rescue is thrilling, Bill-and-Lydia-together triumph, and for once, Bill does not shoot himself in the foot (literally or metaphorically). Sigh.