Monday, July 06, 2009



The Midnight Room
Author: Rod Lott

Ed Gorman’s THE MIDNIGHT ROOM is mismarketed. Its title has next to nothing to do with its content, and the cover makes it look like a serial-killer thriller. Oh, it has one of those among its characters, but Gorman uses him almost like a MacGuffin.

Instead, he’s written a super-solid crime drama that’s less about a string of murders and more about the ties that bind those investigating, familial and otherwise. And it’s thoroughly engrossing, starting with the opening chapter, in which the mother of a girl who’s been missing receives a mysterious package she didn’t order. Inside? Her daughter’s skull.

Me, hooked.

It’s difficult to run through ROOM’s plot without spoiling its many turns. But know that the killer’s identity is spilled quite early in the book, as if Gorman never intended it to be a mystery. We know what the investigators don’t, so it’s a little uncomfortable when one of them unwittingly gets involved with the murderer on a social level.

But the crux of the novel is the good cop/bad cop relationship between two brothers on the force. One is pretty much on the straight and narrow, who has nothing, but remains optimistic for the future. The other is a mess, who has everything, but goes out of his way to lose it with self-destructive behavior, including a collection of one-stand stands and other, slightly longer affairs.

The siblings’ relationship and its center placement reminded me of THE DEPARTED, because they’re supposed to be playing for the same team, but you wonder if they truly are. That’s just one area in which Gorman keeps you guessing; there are plenty of others.

Gorman makes writing novels look easy. Too easy. His prose is clean and unfussy, which allows his complex plotting to click into place without confusing the reader. Here, the only thing he does wrong occurs in the final scene, with one character reacting to the actions of another in a manner that struck me as completely false, or at least just too tidy and abrupt.

Other than that, this ROOM is definitely worth checking into for a few hours. That’s all it will take. —Rod Lott


RJR said...

I concur with the review. Ed has done some things in this book that are unusual, to say the least. Pick it up!


Unknown said...

it's on the way along with a copy of Leather Maiden by Lansdale, both are going to make some great weekend reading