Well, we won’t know who takes the actual Edgar until the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards Banquet, but today’s the day you learn who takes home the Literary Lunchbox version! The final nominee for the Edgar for Best Paperback Original is Come Twilight by Tyler Dilts. Like Rain Dogs, it’s a police procedural, and like Rain Dogs, there’s a love story. But modern-day California is quite a different setting from late-80’s Ireland. On the other hand Dilts’ book has a car explosion, so there’s that commonality as well.
This is the fourth in the series featuring Long Beach police detective Danny Beckett, and the books have been pretty popular, in large part due to the breezy good-natured personality of the main character. He likes his new girlfriend, spends a lot of nights at her place, but is a little shy about giving her the title. They watch Downton Abbey and agree that he’s a lot like Mr. Bates. He worries that his job makes him hard to live with, plus he snores. He says he’s really only good at two things: investigating homicides and denial. And maybe not really denial.
In Come Twilight, Danny’s called to the scene of an apparent suicide, and due to an easily spotted clue (gun in left hand, victim a righty), starts investigating William Denkins’ murder. Denkins is well-to-do, owns the building, has an ex-wife that he’s on good terms with and a daughter he adores who is married to a not-very-successful restauranteur. Clues and confusion reigns as Danny searches for Denkins’ tenant, Kobayashi Maru, who turns up dead in a dumpster. Meanwhile, Danny’s car, which has been having some problems and has to be towed to the shop, explodes in the middle of the night. Yep, it’s a landmine under the driver’s seat. Hmmmm…. inept bomber? Warning? Hard to say.
Everything’s on lockdown as a colleague investigates the bombing. Charming Danny does a number of ridiculous things, including staying at his partner’s house for safety, then taking middle-of-the-night runs to clear his head. Most ridiculous is stopping by his own house to pick up some clothes, and getting lured by his high-flow showerhead into taking a shower. One abduction, head injury, and “leave her alone” warning later, Danny’s in the hospital with a concussion.
How Dilts ties up all the loose ends, solves the murder and the bombing, while keeping Danny’s love life intact and his partnership on track is an enjoyable read. It’s not particularly twisty; the big reveal (which I won’t reveal here) was heavily foreshadowed. I liked all the current pop culture references, but they’ll probably date the book in years to come. At no point is the reader worried that Danny is in any real danger, and there’s not a lot of angst related to any of the other characters situations. However, it is completely well worth reading.
Where to put it in the ranking? It’s clearly mid-list. The question is whether to place it above or below The 7th Canon. It is truly neck and neck. While I wish I could call it a tie, I’m going to give Dilts the edge for being slightly less formulaic and more contemporary than Dugoni’s book.
My call: Adrian McKinty takes the Edgar for Rain Dogs.
Literary Lunchbox Rankings: Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, Best Original Paperback
- Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty
- A Brilliant Death – Robin Yocum
- Come Twilight – Tyler Dilts
- The 7th Canon – Robert Dugoni
- Heart of Stone – James W. Ziskin
- Shot in Detroit– Patricia Abbott