Paint It Black by P J Parrish

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Paint It Black by P J Parrish

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This novel concentrates on murders of a racial kind. Located in a scenic part of Florida, crime scenes are even more gruesome for the local police department and when a Private Investigator and an FBI agent are thrown into the mix, things get pretty heated and at times explosive.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 978-1847391339

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The central character, PI Louis Kincaid has decamped to Florida. He doesn't really want to be there but he has no job prospects elsewhere, he's still young and he needs to do something, fill his days. Even when a well-paid job as a PI falls in his lap, he still hesitates. Then he thinks, what the hell's he got to lose, a man's got to eat etc.

And this is very much the tone of the book. Characters not really comfortable in their own skin, plodding through the weeks and months - and that includes the local police. Until a body is discovered. A disfigured body. Murder. And in an area full of tourists and retirees. The police are in a bit of a tizzy. Parrish does an excellent job of describing scenic waterfronts and charming fish restaurants, all at odds with this recent death.

And the reader senses that the new man in town, the new (albeit reluctantly) man on the job has baggage, issues dragging him down. The murdered man is black but as the count increases a young, feisty, female FBI profiler is called in. Although bright she's not sure whether the murderer is black - or white. It's crucial to help solve the case. Time is running out and the press are starting to hound ...

And so Parrish ratchets up the tension a notch or two. A few frustrating situations leading to dead-ends only add to this tension. The police team is frankly, a joke. Petty squabbles break out on a regular basis. If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny. And on top of all this, male chauvinism rears its ugly head as the locals try to accept and understand the FBI's role. Basically, most of them think she's a waste of space. But not Kincaid.

Parrish takes the reader through the murders as they happen. He describes the violence, the blood, the pain of the victims. All of this ties in with the image on the front cover. I liked the character, Kincaid. He's hard-working and has a terrific gut instinct for the job. He's heaps better than his police superiors - and they know it.

And the perpetrator pops into the story every now and again. Told in the first person to give added atmosphere and menace. You can tell this person is troubled, deeply troubled. But all is explained at the end. Parrish uses the race card very well to create a credible plot and storyline. It really engaged me as a reader. I loved the FBI agent. I got the sense that she could run rings round most of the others, apart from Kincaid. The little bit of attraction between them was a nice touch.

Lee Child says on the front that this book is American crime fiction at its finest. I'm afraid I disagree. While I enjoyed the book - I found it a good read but not a great read. I've read better crime novels. Having said that, I'll be happy to search out Parrish's other books and perhaps be proved wrong.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals why not try City of Fire by Robert Ellis. You might also appreciate A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis.

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Buy Paint It Black by P J Parrish at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Paint It Black by P J Parrish at


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