Crime Writer is a crazy clever thriller!
Crime Writer by Dime Sheppard
Genre: Thriller / Magical Realism
Several book award nominations
Published 10/1/22; 440 pages
What a clever construct for a story! I loved this book within a book format. (BTW, I love this simple, graphic cover!)
First Sentence: "They say you should write from the heart. You know? Write what's inside, write what's true."
Main Characters: Evie Howland, author; Jay Ryan and Carolyn Harding, detectives; Bobby, killer
This is the engaging story of an author who is trying to avoid her feelings and becomes more and more reclusive as she struggles to overcome her severe writer's block with her 16th detective novel that isn't coming together. Over the years she's developed the habit of talking to her characters in her mind - but suddenly they're talking back! And other people can see them!
It's such a cool idea to imagine favorite book characters coming to life and interacting with you. And, of course, Evie knows everything about the characters and their lives since she invented them - and loves them. EXCEPT she discovers that ALL her characters are now real, including the criminals. And now she has to fix it somehow and keep the serial killer from killing real people.
Even though she knows her detectives well, now that they are real, they are exerting free will instead of just doing what she writes for them to do. Evie finds that more than a little disconcerting! And, not only are Jay and Carolyn real, the police station is real and peopled with her secondary characters. The real challenge occurs when people who have read her books recognize Jay and Carolyn because they look exactly as they've been described in the books!
The main storyline revolves around the three of them, Evie and the detectives, working to try to find the bad guys who have also come to life and don't want to give up their free will. Which means they don't want Evie to sit down and start writing them back into the story. Lots of action and chaos ensue as book people clash with real people. Buckle up, it gets interesting!
Crime Writer is a mystery, it's magical, it's a bit lighthearted, there's a touch of romance - honestly, there's a bit of everything. And, for the most part, every part of it works well. The magical part of this novel, the book characters becoming real, is entertaining and unusual and handled very well. There is a secondary part of the plot which is Evie trying to work through her real life issues - her fear, her grief over losing her dad, her avoidance of interactions with people, ultimately her writer's block. As the story progresses and she realizes she likes her characters more than any real people in her life, it helps her come to terms with some of her issues.
I liked how Evie would make references to previous books when talking to the detectives as they would try to figure out how to catch the killer. Things like: remember when in book 12 he called a friend? or similar. Kind of a good way to introduce information or a minor character into the current story.
My main "complaint" with the story is there are just too many people and I kept getting the bad guys mixed up.. With the exception of Bobby, the killer, all the rest would pop up here and there with little back story and I just couldn't remember who they were or why they were in the story.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and its unusual construct to tell two stories - the real life story of Evie, the author, and then the novel that she's trying to write. Definitely worth picking up and enjoying!