When I saw Kestrel’s Five Decembers won the Edgar for best novel, I wanted to read it. On a whim I requested it on Edelweiss+ and I don’t know what gods are “for my unconquerable [reading] soul,” but Hard Case Crime was kind enough to grant my request. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to read such a great novel. It kept me glued to the page and surprised me by making narrative about-turns I never anticipated. It had depth and sweep and the blurb, quoted below, doesn’t encompass it, but it’s a start:
December 1941. America teeters on the brink of war, and in Honolulu, Hawaii, police detective Joe McGrady is assigned to investigate a homicide that will change his life forever. Because the trail of murder he uncovers will lead him across the Pacific, far from home and the woman he loves; and though the U.S. doesn’t know it yet, a Japanese fleet is already steaming toward Pearl Harbor.
To start, Five Decembers is symphonic in narrative structure, with hero Joe McGrady, like Odysseus, trying to make his way home; it has four distinct yet concentrically interconnected movements. Unlike Homer’s hero, however, Circe’s cave is a transformative interlude of peace and love where Penelope and Circe merge and become one. History precedes it, encroaches on it, and history ends it, but while it lasts, it turns Joe McGrady from hard-boiled detective to a man stripped of everything except his word and honour. (more…)