I love Louis Kincaid

Have you ever read a lot of good books and you still feel like you’re in a slump? Because you haven’t found that one book that grabs you and just won’t let go? Lately, I’ve read a lot of really good books, but nothing that made me green with envy. Nothing that made me want to push my writing muscles harder because that author’s so good, it hurts. And when I hit the mood for that kind of book, more often than not, I pick up a Louis Kincaid.

Just like writing is subjective, so is reading. And for many reasons, I admire P.J. Parrish’s writing. And the thing is, I hardly notice it, and that’s wonderful. When I read Elizabeth George, I notice how good she is. Her word choices. Her descriptions. Her eloquence. Not so with a Louis Kincaid. The dialogue is so real, it doesn’t feel like writing. It feels like I’m listening in. Her characters never quite do or act or say what I think they will. And that throws me off, and it makes them feel real. And they like each other, but they don’t quite get along because each one of them has rough edges. And that makes them feel even more real.

I get so absorbed in the characters that I often don’t notice how bizarre the crimes are in these books. Because some of the plots stretch the imagination, but the characters ground me enough that I don’t grumble too much. (Maybe a little). But I think what appeals to me so much is that almost everything in the books is understated. Kincaid himself, and many of the supporting characters, are likeable in a laid-back way. They’re not warm and fuzzy. They hang in there, struggling to do the right thing. And the right thing isn’t always easy to define. And sometimes, they fail. That makes them more real, too.

To me, Kincaid isn’t a hero, and he’s not an anti-hero. He’s a guy who wants to wear a badge again instead of being a P.I. And some of his clients drive him to the brink, but he still sticks it out to solve a case.

A lot of people are better than me at analyzing what works and what doesn’t in novels, and I’ve tried to pinpoint what I think P.J. Parrish’s strength are. But if it’s possible that a strength is not calling attention to your strengths, I think the two sisters might qualify.

What the heck is noir anyway?

First, I can’t pronounce it. Second, I wasn’t even sure exactly what it was, so I had to look it up. Bing explained, (and this is directly from their site):

noir[nwär]NOUNa genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.”his film proved that a Brit could do noir as darkly as any American”a film or novel in the noir genre.”he says he’s making a noir”

The reason the word mattered to me is: 1. A friend of mine writes it, Les Edgerton. And his is grim. And #2. I just started reading Our Noir, a collection of short stories that includes a Louis Kincaid novella, by P.J. Parrish. I’ve read the first three stories, and OMG are they good! Dark, but good. The editing is HORRIBLE. More missing words, use of the wrong word, or grammar mistakes than I’ve seen in a long time. And that’s saying something these days. .But the writing is rich and weighty. The characters are complex and well done. So far, I love what I’ve read!

The cover reminds me of the True Crime magazines my grandmother used to read. (She wasn’t a warm, fuzzy person and preferred murder stories to grandchildren. I love them both:) But these stories are a lot more sophisticated than Granny enjoyed.

OUR NOIR: A collection of short stories and the Louis Kincaid novella CLAWBACK by [PJ Parrish]

OUR NOIR: A collection of short stories and the Louis Kincaid novella CLAWBACK – Kindle edition by Parrish, PJ. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

I don’t know if any of you have tried noir, and I’m still trying to decide if the Louis Kincaid novels fit the genre. He seems a little too honorable to me, (not the one that features his romantic interest, the female detective Joe, though). Or maybe it’s the villains who define the genre. Do they have to be a bit depraved? or darker than usual? Do any of you have a favorite noir author? And how do you define them? Just curious.

Mystery Musings

I read ISLAND OF BONES by P.J. Parrish, and I’ve fallen even more in love with the Louis Kincaid mystery series. This book’s set in Florida, and the heat and water, mosquitoes and mangroves are an intricate part of the story. What I think I like best about Parrish’s writing, though, is that characters reveal themselves to me a little at a time. One layer opens up to reveal a deeper one, like peeling an onion. I especially loved the character development of Landeta, a cop Louis is forced to work with. What a beautiful unfolding. And Emma’s reveal near the end of the book broke my heart.

The crimes committed keep morphing into unexpected territory. And the ending felt realistic. Life isn’t black and white, and with Louis Kincaid, there’s a lot of gray area. What is justice anyway? Good isn’t always rewarded, and bad isn’t always what it seems.

Most of the book is told from Kincaid’s POV, but occasionally, the author jarred me when she went into someone else’s viewpont. It worked, but it did throw me for a minute. I’m used to the back and forth of multiple POVs, but she chose not to worry about the usual rules and do it her way. Effective, but not expected.

I can’t recommend P.J. Parrish highly enough. She’s an author who inspires me. Her pacing ticks away by constantly throwing me off balance. She feeds me just enough information to make me feel like I know where the story’s going, but then I don’t. Her characters feel real, and this particular mystery was like opening a can of worms. Unusual and messy. I loved it!

Mystery Musings

I just finished reading PAINT IT BLACK by PJ Parrish.  I’ve just started the series, so as usual, I’m behind everyone else.  This is the second full book, and I really liked the first one, but I loved this one.  I loved it so much, I decided to do more than a review and to write about it here.

It’s gritty, but for me, it never went too far.  It’s violent, but we hear the violent acts but don’t have to watch them.  I can only take so much these days.  When I was young, bring on the horror and gory!  Show me a new serial killer.  But those days are behind me.  Which is odd.  Because I can write about them with more ease than I can read them.  Maybe because I put myself in the killer’s mind and what he’s doing feels like what he would really do?  Not sure.  But hinting at things off screen works better for me these days.

The Louis Kincaid stories are thrillers, and this one revolves around a serial killer.  His psychology fascinated me.  And the farther I read, the more I knew that eventually, Louis Kincaid would be high on his list of victims.  That made for great tension.  To the point, (and, sorry, because this might be a spoiler that ruins some of the tension when it happens). that he kidnaps one person but doesn’t kill her because she doesn’t fit his profile.  It’s such an insight into the killer’s motives, I thought it was brilliant.

Besides the mystery and motives, I enjoyed how the characters in this book were fleshed out.  And it was all done in such an understated way with so few words and deep conversations, I was impressed.  Each character is mindful and respectful of each other’s space.  They all have past histories, and some of those histories are painful, so they tiptoe around them, never prying, never pushing too hard.  That made it so that when I learned a little about them, a peek into what happened that they avoid, it made it all the more meaningful.

The end was a fight to the finish.  Well done.  The protagonist didn’t just walk into an obvious trap, even though I do think he could have figured out who the last victim was sooner.  But that aside, the end delivered a strong, emotional impact.  It worked.  And the wrap-up wasn’t exactly what I expected but realistic, so actually better in its way.

This book had complex, private characters; a great villain; strong teamwork between the good guys; and plenty of tension for a thriller.  It’s going high on my list of favorite reads.