In 1992 Los Angeles, Noah owns a video rental store called Pinx. He opened the store with his late love, Jeffer, with whom he had a falling out with shortly before Jeffer’s death. It’s a difficult time in the area as the Los Angeles riots are taking place and businesses are on fire and residents are being injured and killed.
When things are beginning to calm down, Noah stops by Guy Peterson’s camera store to pick up some overdue videos. He and Guy were only acquaintances, but Noah feels like he should stop in. Noah is shocked when he gets there to find the camera store having been burned and Guy’s family going through his possessions. It seems that Guy died in the fire in the store, at least that’s what he’s being told.
But things don’t add up for Noah as he stumbles upon one suspicious clue after the next. With the help of his neighbors, Noah feels compelled to get to the bottom of the story. However, there are those that may want to keep Noah from meddling permanently.
Before this, I had not read any books by Marshall Thornton and the idea of a mystery set in the nostalgic era of the 90s appealed to me. The story had promise as it opened and we are in Noah’s first person perspective. The LA riots are recounted in a brief overview and while Noah’s business is a little outside of the more violent areas, the whole area is feeling the effects. There are a few details of life in the 90s, such as the video store, menthol cigarettes, and cordless phones, but I was expecting there to be even more detail and to feel like I was immersed in the era and that did not happen for me.
Noah thought he had a great life. He was in love with Jeffer for many years and they were successful and owned their own house by the time Noah was 25. We learn early on that Jeffer died and they were somewhat estranged at that point, but what exactly happened is not gone into in depth until the end of the book. However, as Noah set the scene of where he and Jeffer were in the relationship at the time of Jeffer’s death, I knew immediately what was going on so what was supposed to be the big reveal at the end truly did not have the intended impact for me. I can’t say that everyone will catch on as quickly, but it was clearly obvious to me early in the book.
The entire story revolves around Guy, who owned the local camera shop, and what may have happened to him. This storyline did not appeal to me or hold my attention. Guy was not an on page character, his story was just not compelling to me, and the mystery did not engage me enough to want to put all the pieces together. Being that it is a mystery, there’s not much I can discuss in detail, but I kept waiting for something to happen to reel me, and by the halfway mark of the story, I realized that wasn’t going to happen.
Noah is a laid back, tired kind of guy who is lonely and alone. He has friends in his downstairs neighbors who are a couple, yet he doesn’t even know their last names. They get drawn into the mystery of what happened to Guy and they become his sounding board, but these guys were not well-developed characters and were bland. The story involves dirty cops and scheming family members and the outcome of the larger mystery storyline was cloudy at best. This was a case of the characters not wanting to come right out and say things so many things were alluded to and it did not come together for me. There were also many typos in the version I had, which I was not expecting from this author.
The ending isn’t a cliffhanger but this book is billed as being first in a series and is not finished. There was the second reveal at the end that was more personal to Noah and while I had already figured it out, it left the book with a melancholy feeling at the end. This book is also not a romance at all and there are no romantic elements. So, if you are looking for a mystery coupled with a romance, this is not that book.
At the conclusion of the book I did then want to know more about the personal side of what was going on with Noah and I would have to see where this series will go to decide if I will continue. While I did find this book lacking in many areas, if you know you like this author’s style, this one might work better for you.