MEAN TIME by Antonio Arreola


A Jessica Luna Mystery
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This debut mystery explores thorny issues of rape, murder, justice and romance.

Teenager Teddy Lynch was raped—not by strangers, but by four boys her age, including her best friend. Violated, betrayed and devastated, Teddy disappears. Fifteen years later, the badly mutilated body of one of Teddy’s attackers washes ashore outside Chicago, and Detective Jessica Luna is assigned to the case. Life has been difficult for Jessica: Her mother recently died, her father—retired detective Santos Luna—has fallen into a grief-stricken catatonia in a nursing home, and she broke up with her lover and soon-to-be new partner, Detective Troy Dilly. When Jessica relays the crime to her unresponsive father, the details are so similar to his last case—one that has remained unsolved for 30 years, which still haunts him—that he makes a full, and rather implausible, recovery. Reinvigorated, Santos enlists the help of his best friend and former partner, retired detective Frank Dilly, along with the beautiful and clairvoyant Aurora, to help the younger Luna and Dilly solve the case. Though the story at times hits the fast-paced marks of a thriller, that’s where the intrigue ends. Jessica and Santos seem more preoccupied with their romantic entanglements than the case, and their shallow inner monologues fail to develop either character as a true protagonist. Perspective is also given to the three remaining rapists, who, now as adults, are often unbelievably characterized as sympathetic: lonely, depressed and anxiously searching for love and understanding. Meanwhile, the murderer is characterized as a violent, unstable and terrifying villain. Not only is the book sorely underdeveloped—there are significant holes in the plot, the writing is clumsy and wrought with cliché, and the characters are superficial—but because such sensitive topics are not treated with care, it may also be offensive to many readers.

What begins as a potentially intriguing story devolves into far-fetched, sentimental and, at times, intolerable chaos that doesn’t do anyone justice.

Pub Date: May 12th, 2012
Page count: 287pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
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