It’s 1992 and Los Angeles is burning. Noah Valentine, the owner of Pinx Video in Silver Lake, notices the fires have taken their toll on fellow shopkeeper Guy Peterson’s camera shop. After the riots end, he decides to stop by Guy’s apartment to pick up his overdue videos, only to find Guy’s family dividing up his belongings. He died in the camera store fire—or did he? Noah and his downstairs neighbors begin to suspect something else might have happened to Guy Peterson. Something truly sinister. The first in a new series from Lambda Award-winner Marshall Thornton, Night Drop strikes a lighter tone than the Boystown Mysteries, while bringing Silver Lake of the early 1990s to life.
Dear Marshall Thornton, I kept thinking that I should try your Boytown mysteries but never actually got around to do that. When I saw this book on Kindle Unlimited I thought to myself why not. At the moment there is one more book available in these series also on Kindle Unlimited and I have no idea how many if any more books will be coming.
As blurb tells you the book is starting during Rodney King Riots. The whole story is written in first person POV and I liked Noah’s voice right from the beginning.
"Looking back, it seems odd that I opened the store the second day of the riots, but that morning we weren’t especially afraid."
Attempt to open the store was short lived on Noah’s part that day because as soon as he came in he realized that the riots were still continuing and one of his employees Mikey convinced Noah that they really should not be opening. Mikey actually annoyed me a little bit because of him telling his Boss what to do, but I suppose he genuinely cared about the place where he worked and hopefully he cared about Noah too.
Noah opened the store in 1989 with his late partner Jeffer Cole. We get to hear Noah’s musings as to what he should be calling Jeffer.
"My late—my late what? I never knew how to talk about Jeffer Cole. I suppose I could say he was my late boyfriend, though that lessened the relationship. My late lover sounded like a tragic romance novel—Read My Late Lover and bawl your eyes out! My late partner sounded like we were in business together, and though we were that too, it made me feel like I was trying to hide something. My late husband was the one that felt right, but I had no legal claim to it. Usually, I went to great lengths to avoid the phrase entirely."
Noah unsuccessfully tries to make Mikey go home and goes home himself. I liked that he was friends with the couple living in the same building, Louis and Mark. I was glad that he seemed to genuinely like those people and they liked him in return. I was glad that Noah seemed to have a support system even if it initially felt like a small one. Normally I don’t like when the character starts describing how he looks, because it feels artificial to me. I just don’t see too many people describing their looks for others in real life, however here somehow it made sense to me, considering what mood Noah seemed to be in.
"I put on a Dionne Warwick CD and kicked off my shoes. I went into the bathroom to wash my face. I don’t think it was dirty, but just the idea of a riot made everything seem sooty and thick. I tried not to look at myself. If I had I would not have seen the ghost I felt like but instead a reasonably attractive young man of around twenty-eight. I had brown eyes and unremarkable but symmetrical features. The most noticeable thing about me was my hair. It was massively thick and stubborn. It did whatever it chose and I had little say in the matter. I’d tried every product out there and nothing tamed the beast on my head. At that particular moment it needed cutting, but I could hardly put out a bulletin to stop the riot so I could find a barber."
I do know that I took a lot of time basically describing the set-up of the book, however this is a mystery and more often than not I really do try not to describe much of the plot when I review mystery. I hope readers you got some feel for Noah’s voice. I was really impressed that the writer managed to keep light touch in the narrative which dealt with serious, realistic issues. I thought Noah was a trooper, liked and respected him and really wanted the best for him when I finished the book.
I feel like I should talk at least a little bit about the mystery plot since this is what the book is about. I thought it was well done for the most part. I was impressed how amateur detective’s (Noah in our case) involvement in the murder investigation happened in more or less believable way. As blurb states Noah basically became worried about what happened to a fellow shopkeeper and it all skyrocketed from there.
There were not a lot of the suspects in the story however I have to say that the final twist was a surprise for me. When I read the mystery with the amateur detective playing the main role, I am often annoyed at when the detective goes to confront the villain. I do think Noah did indulge in a bit of “let’s act stupid because we investigate” act, but as he said he at least attempted to “do a smart thing” first. I guess I could live with that.