Kind of Blue
by Miles Corwin
Cover Artist: Design: George Foster
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Oceanview Publishing Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781608090075
Date: 01 November 2010 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
LAPD detective, Ash Levine, made the mistake of falling in love with a witness in protective custody, Latisha Patton. After Latisha's assassination, he is suspended; eventually he quits Felony Special. Eleven months later, Lieutenant Frank Duffy convinces him to rejoin Felony Special in order to capture the one who murdered a retired detective, Pete Relovich. As his investigation proceeds, Levine learns that Relovich is not the victim of an ordinary robbery. He soon finds himself surrounded by dirty cops and ghetto thugs.
Miles Corwin's Kind of Blue is an excellent crime drama/police procedural that exposes the reader to the lives of police officers and the complex machinery of the LAPD. The reader can expect numerous killings that keep this mystery moving at a fast clip. The marvelous setting consists of a sprawling LA landscape; Levine takes the reader surfing on the beautiful Venice sea coast, dining at restaurants in Little Tokyo and China Town, on interviews with witnesses in Lancaster (located in the Mojave Desert) and on stakeouts in the slums of Watts.
The characterization in Kind of Blue is excellent. The Jewish Ash Levine is a combat vet who served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); he sometimes awakes from nightmares of fighting Hezbollah guerrillas. In lieu of golfing like his friends on the police force, he rides a surfboard. He also enjoys listening to blues music; his favorite album is Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. At work, he is harassed by a racist, Mike Graupman. His mother, Estelle, provides much of the comic relief, especially when she learns he is dating a Christian Lebanese, Nicole Haddad.
Ash works diligently to find Relovich's murderer. However, his real reason for returning to Special Forces is to continue investigating the murder of the convenience store owner, Bae Soo Sung, and the beautiful African-American witness, Latisha Patton. His relationship with Latisha was very romantic; she looked upon him as her protector. On the other hand, his relationship with Nicole is one of convenience. Theresa Martinez is a witness in Relovich's slaying; history seems to repeat itself when Ash finds himself battling to protect her. Needless to say, our resident hero finds himself always surrounded by beautiful women - some are nice and some are not so nice.
Kind of Blue provides an insight into the latest in police forensics. If a criminal sweats enough, fingerprints can be obtained even if they are wearing latex gloves through a process called Vacuum Metal Deposition (VMD). Also, the criminals of today are wiser; bags of stolen money are submerged in buckets of water to prevent dye packs from exploding via remote control. I never realized until reading this novel how much reliance detectives have on paid informants (snitches) in order to solve their cases.
A former reporter for the LA Times, Miles Corwin has evidently put a lot of effort into creating Kind of Blue, a superb debut mystery novel; it is highly recommended reading for lovers of gritty crime noir. Written from the point of view of the hero, Ash Levine, the story flows easily and smoothly. A great combination of romance, suspense, betrayal, police procedure, and graphic violence and gore, Kind of Blue has plenty of drama to keep most any reader engaged for hours. Hopefully, Corwin is hard at work on a sequel. If I don't read further adventures of Ash Levine, then I'll be feeling kind of blue.
If you enjoy reading gritty crime noir set in Los Angeles, then I highly recommend David J. Schow's Internecine. An ordinary executive advertisement agent, Conrad Maddox, is mistaken for an assassin and becomes a pawn in a bloody, violent war - an internecine - to take over NORCO, a secret, complex organization of hired assassins. Conrad is protected by a freelance hit man, Dandine, while fighting to stay alive and prevent NORCO from buying the governorship of California.