Review Blog

Aug 14 2012

The Midnight Promise by Zane Lovitt

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Text, 2012. ISBN 9781921922930.
(Age: Adult) This debut crime novel by Zane Lovitt introduces the reader to a new detective using traditional techniques but a new kind of crime writing.  The hero, John Dorn, a 'private inquiry agent', at first licensed but eventually defrocked, tells his story in a preface and ten cases. He seems to be a traditional private detective, working as he does from a grimy office that doubles as his bedroom and lacking such amenities as a family or a loved one. He goes about his cases in a tight-lipped kind of way that allows him to survive encounters with the desperate, the dangerous and the despicable. As he works his way through his cases, most of which come to him from his lawyer mate Demetri, John Dorn learns bitter truths about humanity and himself. He seems to earn nothing but, in traditional private dick fashion, drinks a lot (how do they do it, on no income?) and has an outlook that is both resigned and cynical. He solves cases but manages to provoke and antagonize many suspects to the point of robust physical contact, which leaves him worse off. Unlike the traditional crime novel, here the world is not put back to rights. The detective fails to rescue the kidnapped girl, the psychopath does kill his business rival and the teacher gets away with an affair with a minor. In these cases the innocent and helpless are goaled, and those who should be good are not. Justice is blind, and so, ultimately, is John Dorn, his final case leaving him gasping mad promises as, clutching the body of a dying boy, he pounds along a dark highway. Fortunately for the reader's faith in the private detective profession, a preface establishes that John Dorn not only survives but becomes a Better Person and hence a more compassionate investigator. The writing is crisp and sure. The cases are intriguing and believable. This is an enjoyable read suitable for adult readers because of language and themes.
Jenny Hamilton

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