A battered detective. A dead girl on the beach. A small town on edge. A curmudgeon. An iconoclast. A loner. That's how people describe Garrison Gage, and that's when they're being charitable. After his wife's brutal murder in New York, and Gage himself is beaten nearly to death, the crippled private investigator retreats 3,000 miles to the quaint coastal town of Barnacle Bluffs, Oregon. He spends the next five years in a convalescent stupor, content to bide his time filling out crossword puzzles and trying to forget that his wife's death is his fault. But all that changes when he discovers the body of a young woman washed up on the beach, and his conscience draws him back into his old occupation - forcing him to confront the demons of his own guilt before he can hope to solve the girl's murder.
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This book seemed to be a combination of opposites. I bought it based on the good reviews I had read. And I largely agree with them. The story is about Garrsion Gage, a former private investigator who is now a curmudgeonly, withdrawn, broken man, who has retired to be alone in a small Oregon coast town after his wife was killed and his leg permanently injured in an attack. He lives with his memories and crossword puzzles, and except for Mattie--an older woman who lives in a small house he owns and her granddaughter Zoe, he has no contact with anyone. Everything changes when he finds the body of a young woman, washed up on the beach.
The opposites (to me) were the fact that the author has created an interesting and believable protagonist, who is far from being without redeeming features. In fact, over the course of the book, he is revealed to have many sides to himself. The plot, as mysteries go, is better than many--certainly held my attention, and I noticed myself thinking about it, wanting to get back to listening, in between times. It moved well, kept a good pace, had well-developed characters and just had enough twists and turns to have it be always engaging.
And yet, I would say the author was a good writer of story, without being skillful at his craft. There were times I groaned out loud, at some of his cliche similes and descriptions. I felt like people do, who attend "B" movies for fun, just because they are so awful! At some point I simply decided that the story was good enough to ignore the beyond-corney descriptions. And similarly, the narrator did an outstanding job of creating different voices, including the few women--which I think can be a challenge for a man reading. Very, very good at that. But--and this seemed in tandem with the author's terrible descriptions, as to the pace of the reading, and inflection, and the weight of words in places, I wished I could have had a rag to bite on, as one thing after another spoiled the moments of listening. And if I had to listen to him mispronounce the word "spindly" one more time (why DID the author use it so much?) I thought I would scream.
So I wanted to write this to say that I really liked this book. And I fully intend to listen to the next in series. And I have decided to focus on the story and characters--which are quite good, and just "listen around" all the other stuff. Oddly, this was a good enough story to be worth the misery of what sometimes had a bit of an amateurish feel to it. I just hope that aspect all improves as it goes forward. A bit of editing would probably help.