Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Title:     Valley of Vice
Author:   Steve Garcia
Rating:   ★★★ 1/2

*Copy provided by Diversion Books for an honest review.

I'm a fan of police procedural/crime novels so this one was right up my alley. In these genres, I look for a lot of action, mysterious villains, a kick-ass hero/heroine, and an engaging plot. How does Valley of Vice rank up to my expectations?

In Hollywood, it’s not just dreams that are easily snuffed out.

When a burned body is found on a studio lot, Detective Salvador Reyes and his partner Detective Philippa Wallace are on the scene. The mystery deepens when they identify the body as a felon named Bartholomew Pearl who should have been in jail for shooting a fellow detective. Then a city official, Theodor Simons, is found dead of an apparent suicide.

Convinced the deaths are connected, and not everything is what it appears, Reyes and Wallace investigate. Their inquiries take a dangerous turn, pointing to someone in the police department itself. Soon it’s hard to know who is an enemy, and who is a friend.

I feel like Valley of Vice is a bit underdeveloped and not very cohesive. There were too many characters and sub-plots that it was confusing to imagine how things were proceeding as I read. The characters were also underdeveloped that I was not sure who were really the main characters, despite the synopsis. They all felt like primary characters, and yet secondary characters at the same time as a lot of them were in the spotlight several times, and not just as supporting characters. I feel like I don't really know them well, aside from knowing they're pretty brave...and that's it.

While the synopsis states that Reyes and Wallace where the main characters, Wagner and Kahn were just all over the place. Then another detective, Coombs, was also inserted into the investigation of Wallace and Reyes. And yet, throughout the story, only Reyes and Wallace were the only ones who kept investigating the murders. Wagner, Kahn, and Coombs were involved with different cases, and yet they kept butting into the Reyes and Wallace's investigation.

After running around throughout the book, it was still not explained why the main villain was running around killing all those people. He was not given a chance to explain himself, and even in the aftermath, no explanation was given by the police force. Main Villain only stated he had post-traumatic stress disorder, and while I'm not discrediting that as a viable reason, it was not explained in the book why he was targeting the construction industry. There was somewhat a disconnect to the conversation in the prologue to why the last targeted victim, Sam Davey, also had to die.

While I find myself enjoying the book, and I didn't feel like giving up on Valley of Vice (which is always important when reading from a new author), I didn't feel truly engaged in the book. However, Steve Garcia shows promise with his writing. I was just fascinated with the police exchange, and the snappy liners of Wagner and Kahn. Valley of Vice could have been good, but a lot of its elements were too messy to be a truly captivating crime novel.

If you want to take a shot at Valley of Vice, it is available as an ebook from several stores: Diversion Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Kobo, and Sony Reader Store.