Five Decembers cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Every once in a while Hard Case Crime includes a novel that seems to come out of nowhere, a book that is neither hard-fisted crime noir, a lost book of a famous crime author of the past, or the work of a new writer.  Soho Sins (reviewed here at borg) is an example.  The next is Five Decembers, coming to bookstores next week from the imprint and available for pre-order now here at Amazon.  Written by James Kestrel (a pseudonym for Jonathan Moore), the novel is interesting for all the components the author ties together.  It’s ultimately a strange 1940s era romance, like the romance thread of a Herman Wouk novel (The Winds of War, War and Remembrance).  For the first 200 pages the reader thinks he/she is reading a detective story.  As the story gets revved up, the author shifts gears and settles in on a historical fiction tale, switching gears again into a vengeance story.  It feels like an assemblage of ideas, an anthology of war stories rolled into one, ultimately pinning it all on one protagonist and pushing it all forward in an exhausting journey of a Hawaii detective trying to find a particularly bloody killer, sucked into the crime so much that attention to the facts of the crime gets him through the entirety of World War II.

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