It took me a few chapters to get into Five Decembers and I'm not sure why, but from the moment it first hooked me until the end, I was gripped. What an absolute gem of a book.
Joe McGrady is the police detective who takes on a case involving a young couple who have been butchered in a shack in Hawaii. And that's pretty much all I want to tell you in order to make sure I don't spoil anything for when it's your turn.
McGrady's journey is told in a real hard-boiled noir detective style that's woven through a tapestry that has genuine scope. He's surrounded by a cast of characters who are brilliantly formed and situations that are utterly compelling. There's romance, war, history and culture to appreciate in a tale that's constantly driving forward. Every loose end is bound tightly into the whole as ghosts are exorcised and shadows illuminated. The detail is perfect and the world of the nineteen forties is so well described that it feels like you're actually there.
There's a brutal hardness to aspects of the tale. There's also a poetic softness underneath. Imagine a Rottweiler that likes to have his tummy tickled.
A couple of things occurred to me when I finished the read.
The first thing I thought of once I was able to settle down was From Here To Eternity (I love From Here To Eternity). Five Decembers has that epic feel to it.
And if it were to be made into a movie, the perfect lead would be a resurrected Bogart on his very best form.
400 pages of total engagement, tension and pleasure. The perfect summer read, no matter what your taste in fiction.
Utterly brilliant. Add it to your must read pile. Also buy the paperback rather than the e-book version (it's that kind of book).