Review #26: Too Close to Miss by John Perich

Yet another book set in Boston. I think that’s at least my fourth this year? This one actually does a fairly great job of utilizing the city. I’m not sure why it’s become so important to me that authors use their settings well, but when it comes to a city that I know (such as Boston), savvy use of the setting can really win me over.

Mara Cunningham is a crime photographer for a local Boston paper. She is portrayed as most novel reporters are: stubborn, difficult, over-worked, and totally willing to get into really stupid situations. In this book, not surprisingly, Mara finds herself in the middle of a real hot mess. Her ex-lover, is injured in a home-invasion shooting. With his wife and kid killed, Mara finds herself on the other side of the law as a possible suspect. She uses her journalistic background to investigate the case, and quickly finds out there is much more to the home-invasion. She quickly finds herself in a real pickle, as she tries to solve the shootings while also making sure she herself doesn’t get killed.

I really enjoyed this book. As I mentioned Perich makes excellent use of his Boston setting. It’s not quite as skillful as Lehane, but certainly well above Lisa Gardner’s work. We travel from the fancy areas of Dorchester to hipster Somerville to the more seedy areas of Everett to the beautiful New Hampshire woods. The narrative is fast-paced and Mara is a pretty cool character. Yes, she makes some stupid decisions, but she also is pretty badass at points, getting herself out of some pretty dangerous situations. I think Perich’s portrayal of Mara was easily my favorite part of the book. For a male author writing about a female protagonist (which I think is quite rare in the literature), he made Mara as ballsy as any male protagonist. There is no tip toeing around the situations simply because she is a woman. I think this was a very brave decision to make, but well worth it.

Perich’s debut model is certainly a success and I will keep an eye out for additions to this series!