Interest Level: Adult
A little over a year ago I read and reviewed (and loved) The Hidden, a winter mystery by Bill Pronzini set on California’s foggy north coast. This time, the grand master of mystery and suspense sharpens his pencil and aims it in the other direction – Death Valley and the Mojave desert. Rick Fallon is reeling from the death of his son and the end of his marriage. After signing the divorce papers, he heads to the desert to regroup. But his plans for back-country hiking and camping are interrupted when he finds an abandoned car and a suicide note. Desperate to prove something within himself, he sets off to find the troubled soul and succeeds, just in time to save her life. Her story tugs at his own history and Rick soon sets off to find the woman’s kidnapped son. I read the e-book edition and I’ll bet the print version has a map of the area, because of the setting – Death Valley, Laughlin and Las Vegas, and to a lesser extent San Diego. Having just been in Death Valley and Vegas a few months ago, I gloried in his evocative descriptions. Pronzini loves California, and here he develops the desert and city as living breathing characters. In a way, he puts more effort into that than he does the plot – it was beautifully written and well developed, but suffers slightly from a somewhat predictable resolution. Thus it’s merely brilliant rather than exceptional, and a merely brilliant Pronzini novel still shines and enthralls. Don’t miss this one.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9744122-the-other-side-of-silence