Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review of Late Rain

It's safe to lump Lynn Kostoff in with Pinckney Benedict and Madison Smartt Bell, which is to say he is a very talented writer who no one will read because they are too busy telling all their friends on Facebook how funny last night's episode of the hit sitcom "Two Bikini Models and an Adorable Puppy" was. This state of affairs does not fill my heart with hope.

Mere months after New Pulp Press resurrected Kostoff's -blink and you missed it- thriller A Choice of Nightmares, he is back with a new novel, Late Rain (Tyrus Books, 2010). The new novel is set in the low country of South Carolina, and centers around the events set in motion by the avaricious Corrine Tedros, when she conspires to have her father-in-law murdered so as to get her hands on his soft drink fortune and leave behind her sordid past forever.

When the murder is witnessed by a man in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, former homicide detective and current beat cop Ben Decovic, who has, like Tedros, moved to the deep south to try and escape his past. It goes without saying that two characters running away from things they can't escape will eventually run right into each other with tragic results.

Late Rain
is very different in tone that Nightmares, which was a truly disorienting novel that throbbed with decadence and menace on every page. Rain is more restrained, and more straightforward, in that there are good and bad characters, and its much easier to get comfortable with since you know who you're pulling for early on. It's much more accessible in that respect, but Kostoff still refuses to tie up the story with a nice comforting bow at the end, turning what could have been a by the numbers crime story with a warm fuzzy ending into something better. Yes, the murder gets solved, but the truly evil characters still run free, and there is no real justice, just the rough approximation of justice which we are all forced to settle for in real life all too often, and the good guy gets only the consolation prize of knowing that he did what he could.
Not exactly life affirming, but then, very little in life is.


Nate Flexer said...

Lynn Kostoff is a gem, and it's a shame more people haven't read his stuff. He refuses the temptation to be formulaic and perhaps pays the price in the sales department.

Gonzalo B said...

Is Kostoff really in the same league as Pinckney Benedict? I've never read him but I discovered Benedict through this blog and he's become one of my favorite writers. I guess I'll trust your judgment.

Charlieopera said...

Lynn Kostoff is one of a handful of great literary/crime writers out there today. Fact. Late Rain is a brilliant piece of writing that most crime writers today couldn't pull off with a gun to their heads. I'm rereading Late Rain for the second time and have used markers to highlight passages that are poetic/poignant and just wonderful to read. The state of the publishing world these days is more than sad (not enough readers, ebooks, the economy, etc.), but writing like Kostoff's is undeniable. A gem is right.