Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Book: Absent Friends, by S. J. Rozan (2004)

This book doesn’t drop, as they say in the music biz, for another three weeks, and I’ll be writing a detailed review of it for the next issue of Mystery*File. (Issue #45 just dropped, as they say in the music biz. Get yours now.) So I’ll keep my comments brief.

I liked it. (OK, I won’t keep them that brief.)

It’s an ambitious novel, a crime drama involving a small circle of friends and lovers set against the backdrop of the 9/11 attacks in New York. Rozan does an exemplary job with the latter, recreating the feel of those days in vivid, jangling detail. By comparison, the crime story feels too small-scaled and insular. It’s fairly obvious where the plot is going, a state of affairs that isn’t helped by the book’s ornate structure. Rozan has said she used this technique to echo the way people felt in the wake of the attacks, but it doesn’t read that way. It feels more like a device to mete out information bit by bit.

Perhaps it’s best not to think of ABSENT FRIENDS as a mystery novel, but as a portrait of a time and place that already seems to be receding into the past. It’s beautifully written, as you might expect from Rozan, filled with characters you care about. All of them forced by events to reassess everything they thought they knew. Including their own pasts.

Rozan has been tracking the book’s path through the publishing process on a blog. I hope she keeps it up and running for her next project. If she doesn’t, there’s always her other blog.

Miscellaneous: Links

Michael Moore thinks he’s taking one for the team. I hate to break it to you, big guy, but not every documentary you make is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination.

Elsewhere, David Poland starts a blog. Why he needs one when he already has Movie City News and the Hot Button I don’t know, but he has one. And the New York Times profiles that guy. You know, from the commercials?