Mysteries are one of the trickiest stories to tell, especially these days. Throw in technology, procedure and the fact we are basically spoon fed crime drama’s throughout popular media it makes it even harder to present a truly outstanding and gripping tale. David Carnoy has done it with this book. It was three-hundred plus pages of non stop, breath-holding action. The characters were easily embraced and so well fleshed out you felt like you were a fly on the wall in every scene.
It could easily be coined a dot.com murder mystery, except the murder mystery is just one thing going on in the book. It is the anchor for everything else going on, the aging detective, the depressed and confused trophy wife (who also happens to be the lead suspect in the cases ex-fiance). Oh and the lawyer who is introduced to us while trying to inject herself with hormones for invitro. There are many other characters who you fall in love with or at least love to despise, including the dead guy!
The story flows back and forth in time and place with such ease and no jarring effect I was never confused at what was going on! Well wait, that is not entirely true, I saw a few things coming but most of the time Carnoy had me hopping trying to figure out all the pieces in this huge puzzle which stretched from the Valley to the Bay.
One of my big pet peeves with story telling these days is name dropping tech devices or items which will end up dating the book later down the road. I few mystery writers have done that and it kills the read a decade from now. I do not think this will be the case with The Big Exit. Only in a San Fransisco based criminal mystery do we have cops where the station has gone green and they use iPads instead of paper and the statement will last as long as the book does. There were many items and procedures being used where are ground breaking in today’s crime solving and with the book centered around the founders of some huge dot.com and internet start up companies, it makes perfect sense to include them.
As I mentioned this is not just a story about a murder, this is a story about today’s world, how small it really is with the internet and social media. How anyone and everyone can make an impact with a few strokes of the keys and some clever marketing. But it has a price, just as everything does, the real question is can any of us, including all in the book, truly survive it? One didn’t and he was tagged in blood as a hack. His ex-partner from a decade before who claims he was innocent of a prior crime but still ending up serving almost a decade is now facing charges of murder to the only one who knew the truth about that night.
Extenuating Circumstances define so many folks lives in this book. Past crimes, marriages still on going instead of dissolving, a leave of absence and relationship, an extra glass of wine or two or three and staying on the job… Everyone has reasons and circumstances! It was such a great read and I definitely will be picking up David’s other novel, Knife Music. I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks they are hard pressed to be stumped with a mystery and who is not afraid to dive a bit deeper in the characters lives, as well as their own.
4 out of 5 floppy discs!