John Hart holds the distinction of being the only writer to be awarded the Edgar Award for Best Novel two years in a row. The Edgar (named for Edgar Allan Poe) is given for mysteries, and those of us who enjoy a good mystery use the annual Edgar list of winners and nominees to find new folks to read. Nothing Hart has written to this point has been less than excellent, so when my son was in Portland I asked him to pick up a copy of his latest, Redemption Road, from the iconic Powell's Books because I had no doubt it would be every bit as good as every one of his earlier books.
I'll cut to the chase.
This was a hot mess of a book, and I don't mean that in a good way. One character in a book with an unbelievable back story can work; Hart gave almost every player in this novel one, even the minor characters who only make the briefest of appearances. The explanation for the crimes committed (young women bearing an uncanny resemblance to Liz, the woman at the heart of the story, murdered and displayed on the altar of a church) makes no sense whatsoever, and frankly, without going all spoilery, the murderer is telegraphed so early in the book I was actually stunned to find out that I'd been right about it. I don't even try to figure out the killer, so when I do I feel like the writer didn't do their job.
This was just dreadful. Dreadful. Please -- read John Hart. Read every single one of his books. But for the love of Mr. Poe, skip Redemption Road.
The King of Lies (Nominated for Edgar Award)
Down River (2008 Edgar Award Winner)
The Last Child (2010 Edgar Award Winner)