[STARRED] High Season.
Loomis, Jon (Author)
Sep 2007. 320 p. St. Martin's/Minotaur, hardcover, $23.95. (0312367694).
Loomis’ debut novel, starring Frank Coffin, the only somewhat-willing sheriff of the resort town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, displays the sureness of pace, dead-on atmosphere, and effortless wit of a veteran pro like Robert B. Parker. Coffin fits into the Melville tradition of someone trying and failing to escape the pull of the sea and of fate: the Coffin family jinx goes back through generations of whaling accidents and extends to Coffin’s brother, killed on a Swift boat in Vietnam. Inevitably, Coffin, after being landlocked as a Baltimore cop for nine years, is pulled back to the Cape and to an inner circle of hell, a tiny office in the town hall basement, right next to the boiler room. Coffin’s dream of coasting by on tiny, tourist-time infractions is burst when a TV evangelist, of virulently antigay persuasion, is found strangled on a gay beach, dressed in drag. Coffin’s investigation puts him and his girlfriend in ever-escalating peril. So many things are rendered perfectly in this novel: the depiction of police politics (Coffin was moved from a harborview office to the basement when his uncle, former chief of police, was ousted after bribery and extortion charges); the love-hate tensions of a Cape Cod tourist town; the sharp but not artificially bright dialogue; and Coffin’s own rueful self-reflections. Very funny and very tense. A great read.
The sheriff thing that will not die (oy). But hey, if they're going to compare me (favorably) with Robert Parker, they can call Frank the Lord High Inquisitor for all I care. The Melville thing ain't bad, either.