Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: "Come Twilight" by Tyler Dilts

"I'm only really good at two things—investigating homicides and denial."

While a bit of an oversimplification, that statement describes Long Beach homicide detective Danny Beckett fairly well. He's excellent at his job, but his life has been plagued by tragedies and misfortune, not to mention a serious injury which causes him a great deal of pain from time to time.

A new relationship has suddenly brightened his outlook on life a bit, making him realize he's not quite as bitter and resistant to change as he thought he was. He finds himself enjoying new restaurants in Long Beach's hipster neighborhood, keeping a spare suit in his girlfriend's apartment, and even he is surprised to discover he likes watching Downton Abbey. All of this is tremendously gratifying to those who care about Beckett, especially his longtime partner, Jen Tanaka.

One night Danny and Jen get a call for what appears to be a suicide. But some quick detective work on Danny's part reveals that this was actually a murder, and the pair must identify the perpetrator. And while they seem to be on the right track, everything is derailed when one night, a bomb hidden in Danny's car detonates while it sits in a mechanic's shop. Suddenly there must be an investigation on who tried to kill Danny as well, and whether the two cases are related.

This new development leaves Danny paralyzed by fear, and eventually sidelines him from the murder investigation. Holed up in Jen's house for protection, he is at once both fearful and frustrated, wanting to solve the murder case while desperately trying to understand who would want him dead. His need for independence puts him in further danger and threatens to jeopardize his relationship with his colleagues, particularly Jen. But what happens when he has to decide between breaking the rules and saving a life, a life which might lead to answers?

I've commented before that Tyler Dilts really should be a household name. He's an excellent crime writer, but what makes his work stand out above so many others in this genre is his rich characterization and attention to plot, in addition to weaving mysteries Danny and Jen must solve. Come Twilight is the fourth book featuring Danny and Jen, and each time I read one of Dilts' books it feels like reuniting with old friends. (This being said, you don't have to read the books in order, although they do briefly mention things that happened in earlier books.)

I really enjoyed this book, and like Dilts' previous ones, I found myself emotionally invested in the plot and interested in seeing where things would lead. And if one major plot point wasn't a surprise to me, it didn't affect my enjoyment—if anything, the mystery is secondary to the plot and characters themselves.

If you like crime novels with complex, well-drawn characters, pick up Come Twilight or any of Dilts' three earlier books. Like me, you'll wonder why more people don't know who Tyler Dilts is, and perhaps you can help me figure out how we can change that.

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