Customer Reviews for

The Gray and Guilty Sea: A Garrison Gage Mystery

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

Torn between enjoyment and doubt

Garrison Gage is a recluse in a tiny town, a retired private detective who looks at the world through a jaundiced eye. One could hardly blame him: his last case in New York left him a widower and a cripple. Passing his days with crossword puzzles and solitude, his gumsh...
Garrison Gage is a recluse in a tiny town, a retired private detective who looks at the world through a jaundiced eye. One could hardly blame him: his last case in New York left him a widower and a cripple. Passing his days with crossword puzzles and solitude, his gumshoe instincts are reawakened when he comes across a random dead girl on the beach. So much for retirement.

In The Gray and Guilty Sea, Nolte draws us in right from the get-go. Everything after that is a fast-paced story that keeps you wondering what the next location or contact will reveal. The path is not so much twisted as it is hidden; there are no sudden surprises, but the mystery still takes some time, and a great deal of Gage's energy, to unravel. Woven into the fabric are subplots involving a love interest and an ailing neighbor, as well as said neighbor's teenage granddaughter. Nolte successfully develops these without detracting from the main storyline, adding depth to Gage's character without losing steam.

With his crotchety personality and his love of getting under other people's skins, Gage is a good representation of a character who would be irritating to work with but thoroughly entertaining to observe. His analysis of those around him is spot-on, thus earning a reader's trust in his abilities as a private detective. Unfortunately, other parts of his persona were a bit less credible.

Gage is touted to be a well-versed reader, a connoisseur of jazz, an appreciator of art, and yet a man of simple pleasures. This isn't to say that a person can't be that complex, but something about the presentation of these personality traits -subtle shifts in Gage's speaking style, perhaps - make them difficult to integrate. Instances of him reading philosophy or listening to Coltrane might have boosted the legitimacy of these claims. In a similar manner, the commonality of interests between him and Carmen is a little too perfect, and equally unsupported from his previous interactions with her. Mysteries have a tendency to turn readers into skeptics, digging deeper into characters than they might otherwise do; thus the bar for characterizations is set that much higher. In the end, I disregarded the extraneous information in order to avoid losing faith in the rest of the story.

For the most part, the novel is well-written, with a delivery that is efficient without becoming brusque. It meshed well with Gage's voice, his inner monologues flowing seamlessly into his spoken words. Even so, there were scattered passages in which it was glaringly obvious that someone breezed through the editing process. Awkwardly worded sentences, as well as multiple issues with homophones (eg. "waved" for "waived", "not" for "naught") were bothersome, but what really got me were two instances in which characters' names were actually changed: "Tommy" for "Jimmy" and "Angie" for "Zoe". They jarred me right out of the storyline, and it took some effort to convince myself to ignore them long enough to rekindle my interest in the book.

Nolte has a good grasp of emotion and human responses and credible actions. In that respect, The Gray and Guilty Sea is quite an enjoyable novel that engages a reader on multiple levels. The ending itself was more than satisfactory. Still, convenient coincidences and forced details diminished its plausibility. Methinks that Gage's cynicism is contagious.

-Stimulated Outlet Bo

posted by Stimulated-Outlet on March 10, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Just couldn't get into the story; I stopped reading after 100 pa

Just couldn't get into the story; I stopped reading after 100 pages so perhaps I didn't give it a chance. Maybe I will give a try at another time.

posted by goldieinaz on June 1, 2012

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  • Posted June 1, 2012

    Just couldn't get into the story; I stopped reading after 100 pa

    Just couldn't get into the story; I stopped reading after 100 pages so perhaps I didn't give it a chance. Maybe I will give a try at another time.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Good introduction to an interesting character

    Another story of a flawed hero. The book reads relatively well and gets you involved in the characters (fairly well developed). The resolution of the story happens quickly at the end. A few too many typos/errors in the conversion of this book to an eBook. In the teaser for the next story in the series, a man was referenced as wearing a "rolodex" on his wrist. Quite funny, really.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    Good book

    Overall a good mystery, well written, suspenseful enough to keep you reading.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    Who Was the Woman Whose Body He Found?

    This nook book has an interesting tale, but it is flawed by numerous typographical errors. A body is found by the ocean. The man who finds it, wants to know who it is. He has made a promise to his elderly neighbor, who has cancer, that he will look out for her young grandaughter. Finally, there is a journalist who is interested in the puzzle, and in him too, despite the fact that he has a bad leg and limps. There are some interesting charcters, but I doubt that I would read other books, if the authors care so little for their readers as to carelessly allow a book to be published with errors like this. The same thing would go for a book club, who would be discriminating.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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