A crack Los Angeles Police Department detective and an escaped murder suspect match wits in a novel featuring two obsessed loners.
Melvin Spilsbury is a quirky, insecure, socially awkward milquetoast. When Cheryl Beaumont, his boss’s wife, turns to him for personal advice about her marriage, he quickly enters into a daunting relationship that will result in a grisly murder. Now meet Lt. John Elias, a decorated, play-by-the-rules cop who has devoted his career to getting justice for those who have suffered at the hands of the “filthy scum” who prey upon the innocent. He, too, leads a socially isolated life, so dogged in his commitment to his cases that it cost him a relationship with the only woman he has ever loved. When Elias arrests Spilsbury for the murder of Arthur Beaumont and then the suspect escapes from custody, the cat-and-mouse chase begins. Each protagonist, for his own reason, is out for revenge. Anez (The Blue Mirror, 2016, etc.) begins the tale by having some fun with readers. The novel opens with an “Editor’s Note” stating that this presentation of “one of the most controversial murder cases in Los Angeles history” is culled from the purported diaries of John Elias and Melvin Spilsbury, the verbatim entries of which the editors will present in chronological order. It is a clever hook that snares the reader into this faux setup. The entire narrative is told through what are essentially two first-person fictional memoirs, with Spilsbury receiving by far the lion’s share of the text. The author stumbles a bit in two aspects of the basic premise—he never says how the “diaries” were located, and he doesn’t provide substantive grounds for the initial question he poses to readers about Spilsbury: “Are these writings an accurate depiction of what actually happened or the delusional ravings of a madman?” But Anez excels in fleshing out two three-dimensional characters who seem to have more in common than either would admit. How the murder and its consequences change each of them as they race to the finish constitutes the real meat of the tale.
Although not quite a fast-paced page-turner, this crime story remains an intriguing and satisfying offering by a promising author.