READ OUR REVIEW
A whodunnit with a twist doesn’t begin to describe Dann McDorman’s West Heart Kill. While there are twists aplenty, the book is also a radical departure from the archetypical murder mystery. In a wildly inventive ode to the genre, McDorman takes the classic ensemble of setting, bodies, clues and suspects and tosses them like a salad. Confounding our expectations and insisting we join the fun.
West Heart is an exclusive country club in a remote forested setting. Where the privileged and powerful have mingled for generations to hunt, fish, play, have affairs and remind themselves that whatever knocks life has given them, they’re still the chosen ones. A Fourth of July weekend begins with cocktails on the terrace and an introduction to the dramatis personae as witnessed by an appropriately enigmatic detective. Echoes of Agatha Christie you think, at first, but as the weekend unfurls the body count rises. Intriguing detours lure us from the main path: digressions on the nature of the crime novel, favoured authorial strategies, asides to the reader, musings about plot devices and more.
In his re-imagining of the classic detective story McDorman tweaks aside the curtain to show us the nuts and bolts. He reveals just how easily we get hooked and why. And in contradiction of accepted wisdom that detective stories must sacrifice stylish prose in service of plot, McDorman’s prose is a delight to read.
If you’re a reader who thinks writers, readers, narrators and characters should all know their places and stick to them, this book isn’t for you. If, however, you’re up for some amusing subversion of roles and are prepared to look beyond the plotline, you’ll love this.
Reviewed by Anne Green
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dann McDorman is an Emmy-nominated TV news producer. He has also worked as a newspaper reporter, book reviewer, and cabinet maker.
He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.