Monday, October 16, 2023

West Heart Kill

West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman
10/24/23, 288 pages
Knopf Doubleday

West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman is a highly recommended murder mystery for the right reader. In this unique metafiction locked-room mystery the author frequently writes directly to the reader.

PI Adam McAnnis accompanies an old college friend for a long Fourth of July weekend at the West Heart club in upstate New York. McAnnis is there to look into suspicious activities, which start with a suspicious drowning followed by an accidental shooting. The plot is actually a basic locked-room mystery, which the author acknowledges. What make West Heart Kill unique is the ever present commentary of the author about writing, the history of mysteries, diverse plot devices, comparisons between various mystery novels, etc.

The murder mystery embedded between the commentary is a perfectly serviceable story, but West Heart Kill is not simply a novel, it is an instructional and informative ode to the whole genre via the author. What will make readers like or dislike the novel will be directly related to their reaction to McDorman's candidly addressing them in his commentary. It does feel a bit disjointed at the start and does take some getting used to. Some of the topics of discourse are more interesting than others. At times it also distracts from the actual mystery.

In the end it was a very entertaining novel/educational resource to read if you enjoy literature and mysteries, but in other ways the metafiction additions to the narrative made the novel more convoluted than it needed to be. It might have worked better to include fewer remarks by the author and the ending wasn't entirely satisfying. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday via NetGalley.

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