This was not a conventional mystery read but it was a fun book and unique compared to much of what I consume.
I’m always down for books where folks get dragged unwittingly into being private eyes. But this one is different. Rather than focus solely on the perspective of the protagonist, each chapter has a different perspective from a different character. Some are more relevant to the plot than others, which can be frustrating but over time, I got used to it and even came to appreciate it.
The mystery is well done here but I’m not sure anyone should read this for the case itself. Rather, if you want a book set in early-00s NYC (still post-9/11 with only one reference thank God) in which characters exist on the fringes of the city (in this case, Coney Island), you’ll enjoy it.
Ruby Murphy makes for a quality protagonist. She’s a recovering alcoholic and aspiring pianist who gets dragged into doing scut work at Belmont with horses (horses feature prominently in this one), a job she winds up loving despite the nefarious circumstances unfolding around her. She’s the kind of character I appreciate: funny but not too sarcastic, aware but not unrealistically prescient, conscious of self yet prone to understandable mistakes. Many writers make their main characters in their own image and if that’s the case here, Maggie Estep did a good job being honest with herself. I cared about Ruby. I rooted for her when things went well and feared for her when they didn’t.
Thanks for the recommendation, Sara Grann. This was not what I expected in the best sense of the phrase.