El Camino Drive, by Edward Izzi

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Edward Izzi for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Edward Izzi returns with another of his sensational thrillers that toss a number of well-developed characters together into a story that will have the reader flipping pages well into the night. Detroit P.D. Detective John Valentino finds himself in quite the predicament. A recently divorced, raging alcoholic with an anger management problem, Valentino’s been suspended for beating up his partner. There are other underlying issues, including having been raised without a father. On Hallowe’en Night, 1978, Antonio Valentino was murdered by three men along El Camino Drive. Young Johnny was only six at the time and saw his family fall apart. At the trial, the men got off and skirted justice by claiming a twisted sense of self-defence. Bitter and shocked, one member of the family promised revenge. Now, Detective Valentino is unearthing some of the records and making sense of what happened all those years ago. Tackling some of his demons, Valentino stops drinking and finds himself in what he feels is a healthy relationship. He begins to better understand his philandering father and vows to find the men who caused his family such pain. However, it seems someone is a few steps ahead of him. A few of those tied to the previous murder end up dead, with a unique calling card left at the scene, as well as a small piece of poetry related to the El Camino murder. John Valentino is surely at the top of the suspect list, but is able to alibi himself. With an elderly uncle whose final goal in life is to kill the men who got away with murder, whispers of a mafia boss with a bone to pick with those who killed in such a sloppy way, and even a son who is just now learning the psychological complexities of life without a father figure, the list of suspects seems endless. Yet, someone is exacting revenge and trying to balance the scales for the bloodshed on El Camino Drive back in ‘78. An addictive novel that has so many subplots that the reader will have to stay attentive throughout this story. Izzi proves yet again that he is a master in the field and should let the creative juices flow. Recommended to those who love a great crime thriller, as well as the reader who finds complex storylines to their liking.

I discovered Edward Izzi’s work by fluke when I was offered a copy of another book he wrote a number of months ago. Since then, I have been devouring all of his books within days of receiving them. Izzi writes in such a way that the reader is drawn into the story, with momentum gained as the plot thickens. John Valentino is a perfectly chosen protagonist for this book, with a backstory that is quite complex and sensational development throughout this book. The reader will see his struggles, which are tied into addiction and the trauma of his father’s murder, as well as how he sought to pull himself up by the proverbial bootstraps. Valentino may have a temper, but his passion to resolve the miscarriage of justice related to his father’s murder remains high on his priority list. Pulled into some complex subplots along the way by those who seek to use his access to information only adds to the story and richness of his character. The handful of other characters that Izzi creates add even more flavour to a story that is a perfect mix of thriller and coming of age. Izzi uses a technique that readers who have read all his other pieces will likely see. He creates a character in one of his novels and has them reappear in a subsequent book, offering updates and connecting the pieces without creating a formal series. A central character in one book might return and receive passing mention in another, or a wallflower might take up a major role in a subsequent novel. This is a brilliant technique and yet still allow the reader to pick up any of his novels without feeling the need to read the collection (though who would not want to read all these books?!). Izzi develops an ironclad story around a murder in 1978 and builds from there, offering not only flashbacks/forwards between that time and the present, but also fills in needed aspects from the past to develop more suspects in the present murders. This technique, while requiring the reader to pay close attention, offers rich rewards for those who accept the challenge. While the book is longer (close to 500 pages), it reads so easily that the reader will find they can devour a third of the book in one sitting and feel no sense of time drag. His dialogue is crisp, his plots evolving, and his characters relatable. Finally, using Detroit as his central setting, Izzi writes what he knows best and offers those who know the area with some special treats. This is one of those stories that is sure to receive a great deal of attention if put in the right hands. I can only hope others will discover the magic of this gritty novelist and turn to some of Izzi’s other work, which is just as captivating. Brilliant writing with a collection of standalone novels that have a thread of connectivity. I can only hope Edward Izzi keeps writing, as I am more than happy to keep reading. He stands above all others in a supersaturated genre and keeps getting better!

Kudos, Mr. Izzi, for another formidable effort. I cannot say enough and hope your work ends up into the hands of many, for they will be as astounded as I was to read such high quality work!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons