More heartless kills in New York

Book review by Sebastian Lim

Title: West Heart Kill

Author: Dann McDorman

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

ISBN: 9781526666239

West Heart Kill is an interesting read. Set in 1976, the place is the private West Heart hunting club in New York, and the detective featured is private investigator Adam McAnnis, who is there for a visit with his friend James Blake. The Blakes and the club’s other member families, all beneficiaries of their family wealth, are gathered there to celebrate the Fourth of July.

But McAnnis is actually there at the invitation of a mysterious client who has hired the detective to solve the conspiracies against him.

The book starts on a Thursday and by Sunday, there are three dead bodies at the club!

West Heart is beset with problems, including a proposal to sell the club and the unresolved resentments surrounding the sale. McAnnis observes it all and, when a woman is found dead at the club, the dark and stormy night serves as a dramatic backdrop to multiple interrogations and indignant protestations from the members. It’s soon followed by additional deaths and scandalous revelations.

Dann McDorman does an excellent job of peeling the layers of his detective thriller, carefully doling out surprises as the pages turn. It’s his penchant for digression that might be considered controversial.

He repeatedly pauses his story to contemplate literary conventions, sample different formats and examines the work of Sophocles, and Agatha Christie, among others.

In that sense, West Heart Kill is an off-beat thriller with a mixture of fact and fiction that will leave the readers both in suspense and anticipation. It is a novel that takes you behind-the-scenes that not only alleviates the suspense and also somehow adds to it.

It moves from a narrator in third person to a narrator in first person all interwoven with segments of second person perspective. You need to concentrate and follow the story to stay with the investigations.

The most interesting part is to find out who the murderer is. And it is only revealed at the end of  the story.

Overall, the writing is commendable but the characters are difficult to connect with. There are just so many of them and with the perspective keeps changing back and forth constantly, it may be a problem for some readers to follow.

Surprisingly, for a detective novel that talks so much about the detective, McAnnis, however, ends up looking more like a side character here.

An entertaining novel, but it can be a tad too convoluted for the readers.

Sebastian Lim is an experienced journalist and editor who now runs his own book review blog — The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of The Weekly-Echo.