Departing from my usual to review my latest read: The Rivers Webb, by Jeremy K. Tyler (published 12/2011, Untreed Reads). This is Mr. Tyler’s first novel.
Mr. Tyler transports us to small-town Georgia, 1942. Immediately, he hooks readers by temporarily transplanting a New York City detective to the South to solve a crime. At first glance, this doesn’t start much differently from other novels in the same genre. However, the characters, and the fact that everyone appears to have something to hide, draws the reader in. Using shifting point of view, the reader becomes semi-omniscient. Rather than revealing the mystery too quickly, one of the drawbacks of that technique, it serves to deepen the suspense.
Without making a judgment on the morality of the characters or their actions, Tyler weaves a suspenseful tale of the backlash of keeping family secrets and the nature of revenge. The characters have genuine depth, making some of them at once thoroughly repulsive and yet surprisingly sympathetic. This three-dimensional quality of the characters becomes particularly meaningful at the climax of the story and in the two surprise twists at the novel’s conclusion.
Although a detective/murder mystery novel is not my usual fare, I found myself enjoying the novel. It’s a fairly quick read, with little in it to distract from the plot. Tyler doesn’t waste precious pages on detailed description of the scenery or people’s appearances. He focuses on the action, thus speeding the plot along. The few specific descriptions are integral to the story and make sense in context, again advancing the storyline.
For serious fans of detective and police literature, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. It isn’t that sort of book. You won’t find much in the way of explaining investigation procedures in great detail. For the rest of us, it’s a trip to another time and place, with mystery and suspense woven in.
I particularly appreciated the lack of graphic violence, language, and sexuality. It often seems to me that authors believe their voice won’t carry above the crowd if they don’t throw in a few f-bombs and a naked orgy or two. Thankfully, Tyler is relying on his skill with storytelling instead. If only more authors would take that cue.
Overall, I found The Rivers Webb a light and enjoyable read. I look forward to seeing what Mr. Tyler will bring in the future.