FIVE DECEMBERS – by James Kestrel
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
Available: October 2021
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5.0
(Synopsis provided by Goodreads) December 1941. America teeters on the brink of war, and in Honolulu, Hawaii, police detective Joe McGrady is assigned to investigate a homicide that will change his life forever. Because the trail of murder he uncovers will lead him across the Pacific, far from home and the woman he loves; and though the U.S. doesn’t know it yet, a Japanese fleet is already steaming toward Pearl Harbor.
In his debut, Kestrel writes like a pro. His writing is simple and concise, yet elegant and poignant. There’s a layer of emotional distress (in some form or another) throughout this novel. The scenes in which McGrady is faced with violence are especially mesmerizing. This isn’t a crime novel or historical fiction or drama or romance – it’s all of these things, seamlessly connected. You have different levels throughout Five Decembers in which the mood seems to shift between the explored genres, but your interest and investment never falters. You’ll probably recognize these evolutions, but they won’t deter you from reading. As such, Five Decembers runs a gamut of emotions for the reader. Though I was most drawn to the detective work and violence, I found the entire story to be dark and encompassing. Whether you’re swallowed by the ugliness of people and war, or the love that comes at the hardest of times, Five Decembers has you covered.
Review by Aiden Merchant – www.aidenmerchant.com