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Book Author: Miles Corwin

KIND OF BLUE by Miles Corwin: Book Review

California native, son of a Holocaust survivor, member of the Israeli armed forces, L.A. detective, surfer–that’s Asher Levine’s c.v.  In Miles Corwin’s debut novel, his protagonist is a man of many parts, tormented by most of them.

Ash was a highly respected member of the Los Angeles police department until a year before this book opens.  At that time he had promised protection to a very reluctant witness to a murder, but despite his best effort the woman was killed.  Torn by guilt and feeling unsupported by his superiors, Ash resigned from the force.

But as Kind of Blue opens, his former lieutenant Frank Duffy comes to Ash’s mother’s house where Ash is having shabbat dinner.  Duffy asks his former protegee to return to the force to investigate the murder of an ex-cop.

Ash is reluctant but he agrees, with the silent proviso that when he solves this case he’ll be able to return to the one where his witness was killed.  He had been hurt by the official reprimand Duffy had placed in his file after that murder, but he sees his reinstatement as a chance to go over once again all the parts of the crime that led to his resignation–the killing of a Korean shopkeeper and the subsequent elimination of the witness who saw the shooter.

By all reports Pete Relovich was a good detective who found too much solace in the bottle.   His marriage ended, and he was having trouble making child support payments for his beloved daughter, so he took a job as a driver for an escort service.  Did he see something/someone there that led to his murder?  Because there’s an unexpected treasure that Ash finds hidden under a tile in Relovich’s kitchen–two Japanese ivory carvings and $6,000 in cash.  Where did they come from?

And is a just a coincidence that when Ash is trying to locate Relovich’s former partner he discovers that he too is dead?  The official report says suicide, but Ash isn’t convinced.

Ash’s personal life is kind of a mess too.  Separated from his wife, he meets a beautiful art gallery owner who is an expert on Japanese art.  There’s romantic tension there, but will the fact that Nicole Haddad is of Lebanese descent be a stumbling block in their relationship?  Or is that a minor problem compared to the fact that Nicole already has a boyfriend and only wants Ash when her boyfriend isn’t around?

There are so many threads to follow in this novel that I almost needed paper and pencil to keep them straight.  There’s anti-Semitism in the detectives’ bureau, the various parts of the dead cop’s life, the demons that plague Ash’s sleep, and his determination to find the killer of his witness.

The picture Corwin paints of the Los Angeles police department isn’t a pretty one. There are inept detectives, crooked detectives, cover-ups at all levels.  No wonder Ash wants to go it alone; he doesn’t know whom he can trust.

Miles Corwin has written a taut, exciting first novel, and I’m sure there will be more to come in this series.

You can read more about Miles Corwin at his web site.