Because he toiled in relative obscurity compared to his contemporaries, I don’t know much about Dennis Lynds’ (“Michael Collins”) evolution as a writer. Part of my disillusionment with the last few Dan Fortune novels, which sag in talent after an awesome start, is how Collins seemed to regress. Obviously, when you do a series for a long time, a rhythm develops and plots become familiar but my biggest issue was how Lynds reverted to lazy, familiar PI tropes that weren’t there in his earlier work.
I do know that Lynds spent the early part of his life in New York city before eventually setting in southern California. And I wonder if his experience intentionally comes through here. His last few Fortune books frequently took the protagonist out of the city and all across the country, losing the urbane feel they had in the beginning.
This one, thanks to his ex-lover Marty, plants him in Los Angeles County. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the best Fortune book since his early series ones. By giving atmosphere to his story, Lynds allows his character to feel real, nuanced and not walking into random apartment rooms full of expository characters trying to draw out a shaky plot.
It helps too that while this mystery is layered like most of his are, the characters feel fully realized. Lynds does stick to this habit he has in other Fortune novels where the plight of an ethno-nationalist background is prevalent in the story, though it’s not revealed until the end. But the stakes feel real. Perhaps that’s because of Marty’s presence or maybe it’s the new setting but it felt refreshing to read this one after a series of duds.
I was kind of dragging along my responsibility to read these until my Kindle Unlimited subscription ran out. This is encouraging for the future.