CITY OF ANGELS
By Kenneth Bromberg
Published by Flame Tree Press
Available: November 2020
When I read the info sheet on City of Angels, I was excited. Just knowing it was a 1920s crime novel was enough to hook my attention and sign me up. The author, Kenneth Bromberg, was a new-to-me writer, so there were no expectations there. I went into this one almost blank, and yet hoping to be blown away. I don’t read much crime fiction anymore, after all, despite my love of the genre.
On some level, I suppose I was hoping for something you’d get from Hard Case Crime, but this didn’t have a pulp or noir feel to it. Bromberg almost has a historical tone to his writing. Maybe that’s because he is heavy on background information. While this paints a great picture of the characters, it was also tedious at times and took me out of the main story. I also found that, despite all I came to know about the characters, Edward was the only one I actually liked.
The story here isn’t cohesive, though it’s the opening murder that leads the book into the end. There’s a bit of jumping around, and a change of narrative just about every chapter. With it all being in the FPS, I found myself “playing catch-up” every time I had a narrative change. And, as I said previously, a lot of these chapters are basically flashbacks for the characters. I just didn’t feel like I was reading a single story – it was more like studying detailed notes on a world Bloomberg was fleshing out prior to publishing a book or series.
So, while the writing was detailed and strong, the story and structure of City of Angels were lacking, enough so that I was frequently daydreaming during this novel.
Highlights: If you like detailed character profiles, you’ll get that here … Classic setting
Shadows: Aside from Edward, I didn’t care about any characters … Frequent changing of character narrative in the FPS … Often boring or tedious
FFO: Crime fiction that relies heavily on world building … Stories set in the early 1900s
Takeaway: City of Angels is written well, but structured poorly, allowing for easy stretches of daydreaming.
Would I read this author again? I hate to say no, but I wouldn’t seek out this writer again. If another book of his catches my attention with his synopsis, though, I will give it a shot.
REVIEW BY AIDEN MERCHANT
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