Miles Corwin

Oceanview Hbk $25.95

Released: 1 November 2010

Reviewer: Calum MacLoed

If Philip Marlowe thought his streets were mean, then maybe he should be thankful he didn't have to walk the beat with Corwin's LA cop Ash Levine.

These are meaner streets where a gangbanger can blow away a shopkeeper for no good reason and where talking to the cops can be a capital crime. You might even call it a warzone and no one is better placed to make that comparison than Ash Levine. Before he was a cop, he was a soldier, and not just a soldier in the US Army. Ash served his time in the Israeli Defence Force. To his credit Corwin does not ignore the moral implications of either coming under fire in Lebanon or taking a heavy hand against protestors in the Palestinian Territories, though these are not dwelt on.

It's a background which makes Ash one tough hombre, something which comes in handy on his California beat, though with that CV no one is going to put any money on his relationship with an Arab-American woman going the distance, especially not his very Jewish mother.

"Are you still dating that Iraqi girl?"


"I can't keep those countries straight. Are you still dating that Muslim?"

"She's not Muslim. She's Christian."

Having quit the force after the murder of a witness gets him into trouble with Internal Affairs, he is persuaded back into the fold by his old boss. An ex-cop is murdered and because his father and the victim were buddies, the Chief of Police wants his best man on the job. That best man is Ash.

But Ash makes conditions for his comeback. One is a degree of freedom that sees him operating like a classic California private eye. Just him, no partner, but with access to forensic labs and back up when the need arises. Ash has more in mind than just the murder he is investigating officially, though. He also wants - needs - to know who killed his witness for reasons which eventually become clear.

A straight up cop thriller with its fair share of violence - at one point Ash is in line for some very nasty treatment - it's a good pacy read as Ash follows leads from the homes of wealthy antiquity collectors to the roughest of the LA projects.

The book's ace card is Ash. Tough, thoughtful, but sensitive, he is a physically resilient but emotionally vulnerable man on a mission. The type of capable but all too human hero the reader will be happy to spend time with.

And who can really dislike a hero who takes time out to go surfing?

Hey, it is California after all.







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