A totally hypnotic crime thriller…
Izzi explores family ties, friendship, childhood trauma, alcoholism, and themes of redemption and justice in this taut, suspenseful tale of a family’s struggles with the forty years old murder of one of their own. Antonio Valentino was shot at point blank range on El Camino Drive on the night of Halloween, 1978. Claiming self-defense, the murderers were able to walk scot-free, unaware of a family vendetta placed against them. Now forty years later, Detroit Detective John Valentino, Antonio’s son, is still struggling with his father’s violent killing. Recently suspended from the police force for misconduct, John’s life is in shambles with his alcohol addiction out of control and his marriage dissolved. While sorting out the attic in his family home after his mother’s death, John comes across the blood-stained toy pistol he owned as a child that his father tried to use as a ploy to divert his killers’ attention but failed. Soon, the wife of one of the killers is found stabbed to death with a toy water pistol and a stanza from a poem next to her body. As more murders follow in similar fashion, John becomes the prime suspect. But is he really the one on the killing spree or is there someone else hiding in shadows, setting their personal score? Izzi spins his story skillfully by moving the narrative between different timelines, and his handling of the large cast of characters is achieved with a sure-handed skill and ease. John as a man who’s barely drifting through life because of his childhood trauma gets on readers’ nerves with his self-destroying tendencies, but his rough-around-the-edges and yet good-hearted persona make him an apt protagonist. And his obvious disregard for authorities makes him an endearing hero. Readers will find themselves rooting for him throughout. The secondary characters are equally convincing and sketched with thoughtfulness and care. Izzi doesn’t defer from disclosing the fact that a family vendetta was passed against the killers, thus narrowing down the list of suspects quite early in the story, but he strengthens the suspense with cleverly constructed twists and turns and hard-to-spot, ingenious red herrings. The tension throughout the narrative that keeps readers on their toes skillfully matches the final reveal. Readers trying to avoid extreme violence, bloodshed, and strong language should look elsewhere. With its swiftly paced narrative, exciting plot, and realistic, convincing characters, the novel makes for an entertaining read. Crime readers seeking a finely constructed, quick read will be highly rewarded.
1 thought on “El Camino Drive by Edward Izzi”
Thanks for the great review!