Heir Apparent

Skyhorse. Feb. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781510731080. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781510731097. MYS
PI Eddie King is being questioned for the murder of Walter Morris, who wrote detective novels under a pseudonym. Upon further investigation, King realizes that Morris's novels used King's identity and actual cases. In an attempt to discover how Morris was able to do this, King strikes up a relationship with the man's widow, which quickly turns passionate. The plot does not come to a logical conclusion and circles various potential subplots: Oedipal, government conspiracy, or even possibly insanity. The work oozes style and does such a great job of mimicking the golden age of noir trappings that it takes a while to realize that the book is, in fact, set in the present. The novel jumps from set piece to set piece—a long stay with the widow, a trip to the hospital where the television shows daytime programming from the early 1980s, an angry visit with his mother, etc.; each situation is satisfying but doesn't feel connected to a larger narrative, which might actually be the point.
VERDICT This title by James (The Solitary Woman of Shakespeare) is less for fans of traditional noir looking for a straightforward story and more for readers who seek a fanciful, intellectual challenge.
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