Peter Blauner’s Casino Moon was an unexpected hit with me last year. Richly created characters all down-on-their-luck in loser-town Atlantic City. I enjoyed it from start to finish and thought I had discovered a new voice.
I tried twice to read his Lourdes Robles series but I couldn’t get into it. Everything that popped in Casino Moon felt lank there: the characters, the setting, the mystery, etc. Slipping Into Darkness was the one I really wanted. No less than Stephen King hailed it as one of the best books he’d read in a long while. So when I saw it on sale at a used book store, grabbing it was a no brainer.
It has some of the hallmarks at what made Casino Moon great but maybe that was a one-hit wonder for Blauner. The mystery has its dramatic moments but a disappointing reveal. The characters aren’t nearly as exciting (more on that in a moment). The run through New York City is fun but nothing too inspired.
I think the big thing with this one is how the narrative rotates mostly around the cop and suspected criminal. The criminal character is fine. Whatever. The cop…I dunno. Maybe I’m just allergic to police characters in the wake of this national moment. Maybe I’m exhausted from cliched cops. But I hated his scenes. Absolutely hated them. It had nothing to do with him as a character. Blauner’s writing is not bland. I just…another ex-alcoholic whose been on the job too long and has a Messiah Complex as a detective. Maybe it’s where I am right now but given that his POV is about 50% of the book, it just wasn’t working for me.
So yeah, it had its moments and I get why King likes it but I’m sad to report that Blauner might just be a one hit wonder with me.