Retirement is no excuse to let crimes go unsolved; at least that’s what Alan Golden, a former investigative reporter and now-blind retiree, thinks in Rose’s debut novel, a mystery revolving around the title’s eponymous event.
Golden and his wife, Lynn, are enjoying retirement in Henderson, Nev., when a planned bus trip turns into an entryway back to Golden’s investigative days. The delay to the trip was caused by the bus driver’s murder, and as the press and police spread their investigative nets, Marvin Johannsen, the owner of the bus company and neighbor of the Goldens, brings the couple in as public relations consultants. However, as more suspects appear—a disreputable lawyer, the murder victim’s angry stepson, a tour guide and her temper-challenged ex and more—the Goldens wonder if they’re in over their heads. Overall, the narrative is well-constructed and clear; there’s never any doubt how the players are connected, and even though the case wraps up with a huge coincidence, the choices that lead to it seem reasonable. Rose, who is himself blind, does a fair job of presenting the perspective of a man whose sight has deserted him, though attempts at description are frequently smothered in extraneous detail. More detrimental to the narrative, however, are the central characters, who appear too self-involved and egotistical to perceive other characters as anything but background noise. Rose recognizes this on occasion, describing Alan with terms such as “arrogant” and “self-aggrandizing,” but even those fleeting flashes don’t have significant consequence on the narrative. The blindness of Rose’s protagonist becomes less of a physical characteristic and more of an intellectual failing as the book goes on, which ultimately deflates its momentum.
Rose’s novel, though possessing a strong setup and well-built premise, is undone by its flawed protagonists.