by Nicole Kimberling, contemporary (2009)
Loose Id, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-306-3
Primal Red is a change of pace for Nicole Kimberling as this one is a contemporary mystery-cum-romance story instead of a fantasy story that the author is more well known for. We go to the town of Bellingham, where nothing really happens... or so one would think until poor Shelley Vine shows up dead. Until then, our adorably sarcastic hero Peter Fontaine was convinced that he was trapped in the "City of Subdued Excitement", heh, dreaming of becoming a great journalist while wasting his time chasing for the elusive opportunity to achieve this dream. Now that he has this opportunity to play a Hardy Boy, do you think he will keep his nose out from where it doesn't belong?
A delicious plus to the mystery is the handsome and oh-so-mysterious and emo artist Nick Olson. That fact that Nick was found standing over a poor bloodily-stabbed Shelley in her final moments does dampen the romantic intrigue considerably, but never let it be said that Peter is a person who backs down from a challenge.
I love this story. Everything works so right, I'm impressed. Peter is such a cute fellow, I tell you. Ms Kimberling has achieved a delicate balance that so many authors failed to do when it comes to characters like Peter. Peter is sarcastic but not bitterly bitchy, he has his moments of whimsy but he is not a stupid flake, and he is adorable when he has a crush without turning into a teary-eyed useless clinging twit in the process. There are no little girls wearing strap-on devices of doom here, people.
I'm also impressed by the scene of place in this story. Ms Kimberling describes the town of Bellingham so vividly that I feel as if I was walking on the streets of that place myself. Also, there is a humorous witty-British-crime-movie feel to the story that I adore, from the wry nature of the prose to the nature of the conversations in this story. The story is a most entertaining read as it is well-paced without any sign of flagging in momentum from start to finish.
Primal Red gets my two thumbs up because it is easily one of the most satisfying stories I have read in a while.
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