Oh, golly. The Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards ceremony is coming up on April 26 and I have not blogged about my picks for the Best First Novel by an American Author. Better get cracking.
Here they are- I’m going to start with Red on Red. Author Edward Conlon is a detective with the New York City Police Department and a Harvard grad. Previously published in The New Yorker and elsewhere, he is also the author of a memoir (Blue Blood).
The crime novel features Meehan and Esposito, partners and NYPD detectives. Newly paired, the partners navigate their professional and private lives and the reader sees their relationship deepen as they share experiences. But underneath, there’s a secret: Meehan’s a plant. Internal Affairs is convinced that Esposito is crooked, and it’s Meehan’s job to turn up the evidence.
The story is both sprawling – many characters, lots of scenes, lots of stuff happening – and tight, as the plot threads weave back together to reveal how multiple crimes and multiple relationships are inter-related. It’s heavy with complexity and complex characters. It also has a tone that reminds me of Joseph Waumbaugh’s books – sad and cynical and hopeful all at the same time.
So – did I love it? Sorry, no. It’s complex, but also convoluted, and as a result, I had a hard time maintaining engagement for the full length of the book – almost 450 pages. It was worth reading and I expect more good stuff from Edward Conlon in the future, but I’m doubting it will be my top pick for the Edgar.
Want to read another perspective? My friend and writing buddy Addy is also blogging about the Edgars. Read her review of Red on Red here.