Friday, November 9, 2012

The Unlikely Victims by Alvin Abram

You must know by now that I have a soft spot for mysteries. A classic whodunnit - most easily captured in a short story - is my very favourite, but I also enjoy a more methodical police procedural. In this book Abram puts a little bit of an odd couple/buddy cop flavour into the mix as well.

The Unlikely Victims is actually a series of mysteries, in chronological order, investigated by our narrator, Detective Gabe Garshowitz, and his partner Detective Iris Forester. It's not quite one cohesive story, but neither is it a series of short stories - it's sort of a novel divided into small vignettes. Gabe is an old cop, close to retirement, who has a lot of personal demons. He believes overwork and neglect on his part drove his wife to suicide, which in turn caused a big rift between him and his daughter. He is lonely, has bad knees, and gets into conflicts with some asshole he works with. Then he gets assigned to partner with/mentor Iris, who is a younger woman just getting started as a detective.

I liked Iris because she doesn't take any shit, and she has the kind of attitude I would imagine you would have to develop as a female cop. The two work well together as main characters and I liked their dynamic.

Each mystery leads to a little bit more development of the bond between them, and of self-discovery for Gabe, until the last one which effects him very personally and draws the book full circle.

Toronto is more of a vibe than a setting, and Jewish Toronto is well represented, which is a nice change of pace. The book is well written and well paced; I liked some of the choices Abram made, like starting each case with a partial description of events so that the reader knows a little more than the detectives, but not everything. There were a lot of typographical errors though, and some really baffling changes in viewpoint, sometimes mid-paragraph.

All in all I liked it. It was pretty good and kept me reading. I'm not sure if I would go back to this author as there is certainly better mystery fiction out there, but it was a good diversion and I do recommend it.

Three CN Towers out of five.

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