Series: Officer Ellie Rush Mystery #2
Genres: Detective Mystery
Published by Berkley on 7 April 2015
Reading Challenges: 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Bicycle cop Ellie once again gets to put her detecting skills to the test when Eduardo, a gardener she had only just met, is fatally injured. He allegedly fell down a flight of stairs when trying to steal the cello of Xu, an international musician, but Ellie is sure he is too nice a guy to be involved in something criminal. She starts to poke around but has to be careful not to get in the way of the lead detective who she has feelings for.
The good bits
The pacing matches Ellie’s progress on her bike – often slow and deliberate with flashes of action. She has to re-interview people, re-consider assumptions on which the case is based and bit by bit pieces things together. This mirrors real life as despite what mystery books would have us believe, most crime is solved by steadily chipping away at a case rather than immediately discerning that it was Col. Mustard in the Dining Room with the Dagger.
Hirahara’ strength is her characterisation. She has again put an awful lot of effort into painting Ellie along with her family and friends who were surprisingly well rounded for secondary characters. This same energy has been put into bringing Los Angeles to life. I really appreciated the attention to detail and, in the case of the latter, enjoyed seeing the city through a local’s eyes.
The not so good bits
Ellie is prone to long moments of introspection where she muses over her biracial heritage, life, friendships and career. She is going through a massive upheaval personally with the unexpected loss of a beloved friendship and even more unexpected gain of a family member. The detail helped her feel like a real person because we got to know her so intimately over the course of the novel but did have a tendency to draw us away from the mystery. It felt like more pages were devoted to resolving her personal dramas than why Eduardo was killed and that was a shame. In fairness though, Ellie is not a police detective and so wouldn’t normally be privy to that side of the investigation.
I still can’t see the benefit in using present tense given the leisurely pacing. If the tension was higher then living the mystery minute by minute would be great but as it isn’t, present tense felt awkward.
A solid novel with strong characterisation and setting.