Kirkus Reviews (America’s premier and oldest book reviewer) describes the book as "Accomplished, ambitious crime fiction...a multilayered tale that has shades of California noir à la Chinatown." 5 STARS, "Best Books of 2014" from IndieReader. "...Written in the style of Elmore Leonard," says the San Francisco Book Review. Part mystery, part suspense, part romance, an exploration of contemporary morality and temptation. Dylan Blake, a rookie cop at age 40 promoted to detective, finds his vacation interrupted when the Chief of Police asks him to take a look at an accident scene along the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur. Blake’s discovery pulls him back to his own painful memories and sets a chain of events in motion that unearth a family’s secrets about murder and the way morality can be made to bend as the story moves back and forth between Big Sur’s dramatic coastline, Northern California, and Utah.
2nd Edition published June, 2016 (1st edition July, 2014): All reviews noted here relate to the novel's earlier edition which has now been strengthened.
Detective Dylan Blake, nearly murdered while investigating a mysterious California highway death, perseveres even as events lead him toward hypocritical, self-righteous Utah billionaire James Kilmer. Babka builds on the book's energetic beginning, with Blake's commitment and decency inspiring such colorful characters as vampish Kathryn Winslow and her despairing prostitute daughter Allison to confront their own secrets. Repetitious tirades against the self-serving wealthy make Kilmer predictably one-dimensional, but lively former Mafioso Tony Mariano underscores the dialectic about true justice that resonates throughout. The too-neat ending wrap-ups do not diminish the reader's satisfaction.
Date Submitted: September 11, 2016
"5-STARS, BEST OF 2014 LIST…a non-stop, action-packed adventure as Blake overcomes several attempts on his & his loved ones lives and becomes deeply entwined in investigating two murders, a litany of sexual assaults, lies, charges, counter-charges and outright hatred. Blake takes the investigation in stride while fighting for answers from northern California, to Salt Lake City to a small town on the Georgia/North Carolina/Tennessee border.”
"Accomplished, ambitious crime fiction launching a sensitive, complex hero and a promising array of supporting characters...In the first volume of this California-based mystery series, middle-aged rookie cop Dylan Blake gets pulled into a murder case that recalls his own painful past...a multilayered tale that has shades of California noir à la Chinatown...There's rich material to mine in this strong start to a new series.” One of approx. 480 indie (among the over 300,000 traditional & indie books published in 2014) chosen to be featured in Kirkus Reviews Magazine.
“A protagonist caught in the duality of our time. Dylan Blake - a small town northern California cop - keeps his gun in a bread box, munches on raw almonds, & listens to NPR like a good liberal, but his anger at old injustices and a new rich-makes-right social order is as fundamental as a black eye."
"A murder mystery in the style of Elmore Leonard…a compelling, well-paced story, with some excellent characters — some we root for, and others we’re happy to see in a body bag. A fun story, perfect for a day at the beach, or a long rainy weekend at home.”