I fear the Guild of Police Procedural Writers will be putting a warrant out for this author, because his main character, Ronan, doesn’t fit either of the approved detective-stereotypes (grumpy hard drinking outsider with a broken marriage or supercool sassy female with lots of changes of clothes – or are other stereotypes available? I haven’t noticed….) Anyway, a crime writer probably needs a special license to write a cop-story where the detective has a happy family life, let alone a tender, loving, responsible relationship with a partner, so this author is putting himself out on a limb, and I’m on his side for that.
Actually I rather like police procedurals though I try not to let anyone know (if you promise not to tell anyone I’ll keep your shameful Mills & Boon collection secret in exchange, OK?) And this is a police procedural with all the things I look for in that genre, not least the confidence (save my blood pressure why don’t you? Most of the stuff I read gives me migraines or depression…) that it’s all going to work out fine for the good guys in the end, though not before our hero has rescued at least one seriously challenged female, come close to death a couple of times, watched a few good guys come to grief and punched a few baddies in the nose. It’s all there.
But there’s more here too. This is quite a thought provoking thriller with some really interesting characters. I love Ronan’s relationships with his partner and his live-in nephew, and I love the complexity of his working life (the police force in his American city are sadly not very “woke”) and the way both he and his colleagues work around his half-known personal secrets. Eliot Parker is clearly an author who thinks a lot about motivation and why people do what they do, so even his bad guys have a bit of depth to them. (I don’t do spoilers – buy the book, matey! – but look out for the discontented scientist, I particularly liked him.) I also wondered if this author really does work in the higher echelons of some hospital somewhere – there’s something eerily plausible in the underlying premise of the story.
Right towards the end, the story got a bit “gothic” and I could have done without that – I felt the author might be losing his nerve a bit, thinking “what if they think it’s too tame without a few scenes like this?” (No, we wouldn’t have done – you’ve kept us glued to the adventure this far, and we’re not going to put the book down now!) But I’ll forgive him for this. I’ll also forgive him for letting Ronan be a bit of sanctimonious finger-wagger to his pretty-much-adult nephew (oh for goodness sake, do you think all this down-home sexual morality is going to persuade any bigots who might read the book that a man can be a responsible parent figure even though he’s gay? Don’t bother, it’s not worth the candle – the bigots gave up before the end of Chapter One, and the rest of us knew Ronan was a great uncle, anyway.)
Not much to forgive and a whole lot to enjoy. All in all, a great read. I’m grateful to Blackthorn Book Tours who kindly gave me a copy of the novel as part of their book tour, asking only for my honest review. So here it is: Knife Edge is a book that any half-way liberal reader of detective novels is going to enjoy, from a novelist who knows what he’s doing. I’ll be happy to buy the next one.
Follow the Hard Hat Book Site
About the Author
Eliot Parker is the author of four novels, most recently A Knife’s Edge, which was an Honorable Mention in Thriller Writing at the London Book Festival, and is the sequel to the award-winning novel Fragile Brilliance. His novel Code for Murder was named a 2018 Finalist for Genre Fiction by American Book Fest. He is a recipient of the West Virginia Literary Merit Award and Fragile Brilliance was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize in Thriller Writing. He recently received with the Thriller Writing Award by the National Association of Book Editors (NABE) for his novels.
Eliot is the host of the podcast program Now, Appalachia, which profiles authors and publishers living and writing in the Appalachian region and is heard on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network and Blog Talk Radio. A graduate of the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University with his MFA in Creative Writing and Murray State University with his Doctorate in English, he teaches English at the University of Mississippi and lives in Oxford, Mississippi and Chesapeake, Ohio.