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Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine ...
Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do in return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s drifting toward bankruptcy and is no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.
Eilo recently paid a visit to a home that had a ten-year-old child in it, a child who looks very much like Gavin and who has the same last name as Gavin’s high school girlfriend Anna, whom Gavin last saw a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who have been on the run all these years from a drug dealer from whom Anna stole $121,000.
In her most ambitious novel yet, Emily Mandel combines her most fully realized characters with perhaps her most fully developed story that examines the difficulty of being the person you'd like to be, loss, the way a small and innocent action (e.g., taking a picture of a girl in a foreclosed house) can have disastrous consequences. The Lola Quartet is a work that pays homage to literary noir, is concerned with jazz, Django Reinhardt, economic collapse, love, Florida’s exotic wildlife problem, crushing tropical heat, the leavening of the contemporary world, compulsive gambling, and the unreliability of memory.
This is literary fiction with a strong detective story element.
Posted May 2, 2012
I really enjoyed Emily St. John's first book, Last Night in Montreal, and her second, The Signer's Gun, was just okay. This third novel is somewhere between the two.
The first thing I noticed was that like her first book, this was again about a mysterious girl and a man out to find her. Oh how I love stories like this! I just can't get enough of guys tortured by the girl that got away. The pain of wanting and having loved these women is completely romantic. The second thing I noticed is Emily's signature calm and poetic writing. Her sentences always seem to lure me into a sense of peacefulness, even with tense scenes. Reading her work is very comfortable!
The book is divided into three parts, and where the first part caught my full attention, the middle began to lose me a bit. I was still interested in the fate of the characters I was reading about (especially Gavin and Anna) but I think too many other characters were the focus of the second section and didn't appeal to me. The ending was both rewarding and shocking. I wished the climax had actually happened earlier in the book, so that we could watch the characters move forward with their lives afterward longer than we did. In this case, that was the more intriguing element for me.
Emily St. John is proving herself to be a master of writing about people pushed to the brink by desperation. I look forward to seeing what she has for us next.
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Posted June 18, 2012
If you like mysteries, detective novels, or a splash of noir, then this book should definitely be on your list. Mandel doesn’t write this novel with linear thinking. She jumps back and forth between past and present, allowing you to understand each character, their drives, and their decisions. This makes everyone involved come alive and you feel for them, whether you want to or not. Mandel takes Gavin, as well as the other characters, through a difficult journey that will have you questioning your own decisions and make you wonder the ultimate question: what would you do?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.