This might be the first book in a while that I’ve bought from Goodwill that was worth the dollar I paid for it.
Manhattan Beach is one of those books that fits together like puzzle pieces; there’s nothing extraneous in this story even if it doesn’t necessarily feel densely plotted. But the themes of fidelity, self-sufficiency, and generational passage resonate quietly in the background. No character or quirk is wasted. Anna, our protagonist is deeply connected to her father, and drawn in young adulthood to the gangster she believes may have had something to do with his disappearance from her family’s life, leaving her and her mother to care for Lydia, her (with a modern diagnostic eye) cerebral palsy afflicted sister. (Forgot to note that this is all set in the WWII era, so our gangster made some money bootlegging).
I hope that noting the book’s economy doesn’t detract from reading it or count as a spoiler (Chekov’s gun predates Roger Ebert’s movie guide by a lot, but young octothorp had many a movie spoiled by the realization that nothing’s introduced without it being significant to the plot thanks to the critic), but any time I thought “why was X introduced with us never seeing it/them again” it would come back up.
This isn’t quite a mystery, but there are elements that are similar; it’s gentler than that. As such, it took a while to get going, but I tore through it once the groundwork was laid. I’m quite interested to read more Egan as a result.