Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hurwitz's Book Within a Book

If this book doesn't make my Top 10 for 2008, it will be a hell of a good year for reading! Gregg Hurwitz takes the reader inside the mind of a man who is trying to prove both to the World and to himself that he didn't kill his ex-fiance in The Crime Writer. And oh yeah, by the way, he happens to be an author of crime fiction. So, to help himself solve the case he starts writing his next book, the story of his investigation.

This is my first Hurwitz novel. After doing a little research it appears that he veered from his normal style to write this book, but regardless of style, this man has talent! Because he was writing this book from the viewpoint of a writer writing the same book, he interspersed sections of manuscript in the book. Below you will see a photo of one of those pages:

I'm not sure how well you'll be able to make out the picture, but one of my favorite lines in the book is part of this section. Drew Danner's editor, Preston, makes a notation for him, "Jackie Collins phoned. She wants her sentence back." How witty! One thing that might have improved the novel would have been to have those edits in red (Danner talks about how Preston edits in red), but I'm sure the cost would have made the book unaffordable. I found myself wondering if these were really the types of things editors marked into manuscripts or if it was merely for the benefit of the novel.

I loved how Hurwitz brought out the flaws in his Los Angeles characters. The characters aren't all beautiful people who do all the right things. Danner falls for a woman who has very alarming scars on her face. He befriends - or be-brothers - a young hoodlum and adopts his dog, Xena, to save her from the Pound. The dog isn't the perfect watchdog despite it's mix breed of Doberman-Rottweiler, and she tears up Danner's house. Even Chic, Danner's best friend, made the ultimate error by dropping an infield fly ball in a professional baseball game.

I also enjoyed Hurwitz's sense of humor. His constant reference to his Toyota Hylander as the "Guiltmobile" is great! And the intercourse between himself and Junior is priceless. Like when Danner has Junior in the car while he is following the man he thinks is setting him up. Junior advises him on his proximity and asks him, "Don't you watch no T.J. Hooker?" Danner's response is "I was watching T.J. Hooker before you boosted your first car." And Junior just can't get over Danner's use of the word "boosted." He promptly corrects him and tells him it's "jacked." And refers to him as "Grampa." Their interaction is a constant role reversal. Danner is learning from Junior.

There is a scene where Danner goes to his editor's condo. The purpose behind that scene alluded me. I know Hurwitz had some point in including it, but I didn't get it.

I do hope Hurwitz uses Drew Danner as a spring board and that this isn't the last we've seen of him. This novel was a high intensity, page-turning, WOW outstanding book! I loved it.


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