Salvation Lake By: GM Ford
3 out of 5 Stars
I received an advanced ebook of Salvation Lake via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Salvation Lake is a fairly typical hardboiled lone-detective novel. This is the eighth book in the series featuring private detective Leo Waterman, but the other books aren’t required reading; Ford does a decent job of filling in relevant events from previous books.
The book begins with a bar fight, and introduces us to Leo Waterman, former private eye and son of the deceased local political scumbag, Bill Waterman. Unfortunately for Leo, his old flame and King County (Seattle) medical examiner, Rebecca Duval, not only witnesses Leo’s humiliation, but comes bearing bad news: it seems two dead men have been found in a car trunk, wrapped up in one of Leo’s father’s signature jackets.
From here the story twists and turns. Naturally, the Seattle Police tell Leo to stay away from the case they’re investigating. And naturally, Leo ignores them and begins his own investigation with help from the ME and a motley group of friends and bar flies. Unfortunately, trying figure out who killed the two guys in the car, and why they were wrapped in that particular jacket, opens up a writhing, rotten can of worms.
From the initial crime, we are lead to a crooked fundamentalist preacher, the Las Vegas Mob, and violent goons among others. Small subplots and minor mysteries wander in and out, leaving the reader, like Leo, to determine what is connected to the case and what is not.
The book was decently written, with good dialogue and a steady pace. It was a good two-afternoon read. One complaint (which may be irrelevant, as I haven’t read the rest of the series) is that the characters, particularly Leo and Rebecca Duval, seem a bit two dimensional. They go about their business, but never seem to rise above the “I’m a private eye with a complicated past” and “I’m the incredibly intelligent and attractive medical examiner” outline. Maybe it’s due to coming into this series in the middle; I’d be curious to read the earlier books and see how/if the characters have changed over time.
The grand finale is thrilling, with danger and flying bullets and assorted action-hero feats. The ending itself is a bit pat, with everything wrapped up in a very, very neat bow. Especially in a series of books, I always prefer when authors leave somethings unfinished, or even imperfectly wrapped up. It adds interest and realism to the story, and even if you’re burning to tie up every last loose end, doing it serially makes it a bit easier on the reader.
All in all, this is still an enjoyable (and quick) read, worth a few afternoons on the hammock.