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Kind of Blue: L.A. Mystery, Austrian Angle (Book Review 1)

I rarely read mystery novels, but this post is about one: Kind of Blue is a new piece of crime fiction by L.A. author Miles Corwin. The reason the book features on Across the Pond? It has an Austrian angle.

Kind of Blue revolves around the deeds of a couple of dirty cops and their efforts to cover up their trails. So far, so L.A. but the protagonist of the mystery, Ash Levine, is a Jewish police detective, and this is where Austria comes in. Ash's family (the first name is probably no coincidence) was murdered in the Holocaust. Ash is tormented by his family's past, by images of Jews being stuffed into cattle waggons and rolled off to death camps. What haunts this detective also motivates him: Ash's almost obsessive drive for solving homicide cases and for bringing killers to justice is rooted in his family's history, in the crimes Austrians and Germans committed against his aunts, uncles, grandparents.

Miles Corwin started his writing career as a journalist. He was a metropolitan reporter for the Los Angeles Times for many years and also wrote three nonfiction books. To research two of them Corwin spent many months shadowing cops of the L.A.P.D. homicide division. The author not only gained an insider's view of police work, he also got to know the L.A. metropolitan area better than most Angelinos ever will.
Kind of Blue which is Corwin's first novel takes us on a tour of L.A.: from South Central to Lancaster and from San Pedro to Monrovia. Corwin shows us Los Angeles in all its racial and socioeconomic diversity, from white to black and from gritty to glitzy. We encounter police officers, gang bangers, antiques dealers, Mexicans, Koreans, and Ash's almost stereotypical Jewish mother, who keeps an ever watchful eye on her adult son's involvement with women.

The book does have a few kinks: it gets a little slow somewhere in the middle and it could have done with one or two characters less. Also, on the plot level, Ash's enemies seem a tad too sure that Ash will fall into the trap they have set up for him. But it is a good read - for mystery fans and L.A. lovers anywhere and especially for those in Austria and Germany who seek to understand how our shared past influences the day to day lives of people who are thousands of miles away.


debi said…

This sounds like just my type of novel.

I ordered on my kindle and can't wait to start.
Hope you like it. I'll be interested to hear what you think.

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