I usually avoid books with contemporary American settings. That’s where I live. I know about it. I don’t need to spend my time reading about it.
I made an exception for “The Serialist” by David Gordon. It’s a fun, gory, well-paced murder mystery, set in modern New York City, which may as well be a fantasy kingdom to me. It’s also an homage to the struggles and joys of writing, as well as the singular glory of the book, subjects near and dear to my heart.
The only thing I didn’t really like about it was the narrator’s partnership with Claire, who came across as a 15-year-old Manic Pixie Dreamgirl with unnecessary sexual overtones. Maybe Gordon did it on purpose to keep the reader feeling even more on-edge, in case the graphic murders and sleazy locales weren’t doing it enough. Maybe Gordon thinks it’s actually pretty realistic for 15-year-olds to answer the door wearing only a bikini, for a thirtysomething narrator to spend nearly all his time with said 15-year-old, and for said 15-year-old to have basically no parental supervision. Ever. It’s a common complaint in YA media that the characters don’t seem to have parents – well, Claire is a good example.
The twisty plot, freaky serial killer, and generally likable narrator outweigh the slight skeeviness that is Claire, though. If you’re into crime procedurals, dark humor, or books about books, give “The Serialist” a try.