City of the Sun by David Levien

City of the Sun by David LevienThough this was a good read and I don’t regret having picked it up, ultimately there was just something…. lacking. The premise is obviously a gripping one – child disappears while on paper route and the parents’ attempts, with the help of PI Frank Behr, to find out what happened – but the way it unfolds is rushed and somewhat hackneyed.

The early scenes between the husband and wife post disappearance are well done, but later scenes with just the wife come across as afterthoughts or throwaways. As does, in fact, the presence of many of the secondary characters, especially Behr’s former boss at the police department.

It was as if Levien was following some formula that “required” there to be a petty, semi-competent, vindictive authority figure for his lead to bang heads with. The romantic aside was equally by-the-numbers and forced. If this is indeed to be a series, there will be more than enough time to delve into Behr’s romantic / social life.

Frank Behr definitely has promise as a series lead, but I believe the gushing comparisons reviewers have been making to Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole are a bit premature. A better comparison in my opinion would be Lee Child’s Jack Reacher (complete with Behr’s 6’6″ size), though Behr has in no way proven himself (yet) to be as emotionally complex or intellectually sharp as Reacher.

The bottom line is that Behr simply did not have enough of a chance to shine in this book, with the secondary characters taking up more space than necessary, at the expense of Behr’s development. There has been a second book in the series published, but I can’t say I’ll be rushing out to get it.

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