I received this book for free from the publisher / TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Mystery Girl by David Gordon
Published by New Harvest on July 16, 2013
Genres: Crime Fiction, Fiction, Mystery
Source: the publisher / TLC Book Tours
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When Sam Kornberg’s wife, Lala, walks out on him, he’s an unemployed used-book store clerk and failed experimental novelist with a broken heart. Desperate to win her back, he takes a job as assistant detective to the enigmatic Solar Lonsky, a private eye who might be an eccentric and morbid genius or just a morbidly obese madman.
It’s a simple tail job, following a beautiful and mysterious lady around L.A., but Sam soon finds himself helplessly falling for his quarry and hopelessly entangled in a murder case involving Satanists, succubi, underground filmmakers, Hollywood bigshots, Mexican shootouts, video-store geekery, and sexy doppelgangers from beyond the grave. A case that highlights the risks of hardcore reading and mourns the death of the novel—or perhaps just the decline of Western Civilization.
Mystery Girl is a thriller about the dangers of marriage and a detective story about the unsolvable mysteries of love, art, and other people.
Isn’t the cover of this book fantastic? I love it. We’ve always been taught not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes that is the main reason I decide to read (or not read, as the case may be) a particular book. That was the case with Mystery Girl. Yes, the premise sounded good, but when it was offered to me by TLC Book Tours I ultimately said yes because I love the cover. Heh.
Now I find myself torn over how I feel about the book itself.
Mystery Girl can be simply described as a pulpy mystery novel–handsome detective, beautiful women, crime, drugs, sex, etc. Sam Kornberg is no Philip Marlowe (which in some ways is a good thing), but he’s a pretty hilarious narrator. In fact, Mystery Girl is full of characters who are larger than life (no pun intended, in the case of Kornberg’s detective boss) and quite chuckle-worthy. The plot itself is just ridiculous (in a good way).
The mystery aspect of Mystery Girl is very good–it’s suspenseful and well-written. I had parts of it figured out here and there before the end, but I couldn’t figure out how it all tied together until the very end, which is a good thing. Had Gordon stuck to the mystery and Kornberg’s personal life, this would have been a great mystery novel.
Now we come to the one aspect of the book that I am annoyed and disappointed with. Because Kornberg is a wannabe novelist and because Kornberg’s best guy friend is a movie buff, there is a lot of navel gazing about books and movies. I feel like Gordon is shouting behind the scenes, “Look how much I know about literature and film! Wee!” I’m fine with things like that in small doses or where it fits with the main plot, but much of the showing off in Mystery Girl is just that…showing off. There is quite a bit of superfluous information about literature and film shoved into the book, and quite a bit of it doesn’t even matter within the larger plot. I found myself skimming those parts because I just didn’t care.
Aside from that small annoyance (and a couple of other things which are probably just me being nitpicky and aren’t really a big deal), Mystery Girl is a good book. Again, I really enjoyed the mystery itself and Gordon is a good writer. I plowed through the book because I wanted to know what happened next, which is always a good sign. I’d recommend this book to readers who like a good, modern, noir-type mystery.