I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review . That fact didn’t influence my opinion at all.
Blair Vaughn is an alcoholic dentist, currently down on his luck – unemployed and living on the streets of Detroit. One night he witnesses a murder of his old flame and former colleague, Cynthia Maxwell. Still, with a brain noticeably muddled up by gin, he is not sure what really happened and what was just a figment of his imagination. After all being a doctor, he knows better than other homeless addicts the dangers of delirium tremens. He also knows that for the police he is the most unreliable witness possible, right on par with drug fiends, prostitutes and pathological liars – at least until he has some tangible proof to present.
Fighting his own addiction and the preconceptions of people around him Blair tries to find out who killed Cynthia and for what reason. He thinks his chances are very high as he used to know the victim and her family very well, sharing even their passion for geology and rock-hunting. Soon it becomes clear that the case is not as simple as it might have seemed at first glance. Is a homeless alcoholic, even as intelligent as Blair, the right person to solve it?
What I liked:
Vocabulary. While reading this one I found lots of new words concerning dentistry, geology and precious stones and I enjoyed every minute of it even though the infodumps, peppering liberally the text, sometimes made my own imperfect teeth ache.
I also loved the fact that some baddies in the novel, the culprit included, had very nice appearance joined with a completely rotten personality. The murder mystery was well thought out and hardly predictable, with a fair number of twists and turns. Also the problems of a fully-fledged alcohol addict and a hobo were presented in a real, believable way. As I like flawed heroes I was rooting for Blair instantly.
What I didn’t like:
In short the narrative style. I couldn’t get completely immersed in the lecture even though the plot and the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading.
It was also a bit surprising that so many nice women were hitting on Blair despite his less-than-savoury appearance and serious behavioural problems connected to excessive drinking (if you have known a real-life alcoholic you’ll understand). I can speak only for myself but if I faced such a man any romantic feelings would be the last thing crossing my mind.
A good, compelling story but narrated is a bit wooden voice. Still I enjoyed the fragments about rock hunting and dentistry so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.