Readers are introduced to the two main characters, air cop Nate Cole and private investigator Ava Monica. Each are working their own cases: Cole is working to break up and end a human trafficking operation which is resulting in several deaths, and Monica tries to save a young woman from pimps and a cult group while being shadowed by a wannabe Ava by the name of Chrisssy. (Yes, she has three "s" in her name.) Within this chaotic environment, our characters struggle with issues of displacement and a desire to find an end to loneliness. For Cole, his loneliness arises from a defensive mechanism to shield himself from feelings of loss when his colleagues are killed in the line of duty. Monica has put up her own barriers from the loss she has experienced. Both are looking for answers.
With Los Angeles and the surrounding region as a supporting character in NightSun, Vining has created a riveting neo-noir crime drama in the vein of Blade Runner but without the rain and replicants. His successful world building can be attributed to the way he weaves in descriptions of Los Angeles from the past, such as the Garden of Allah, with current landmarks providing a visceral Sam Spade-esque 1940s vibe that hums throughout the book. It’s also a region already known for its noir elements and motifs, and Vining taps right into it. Additionally, Vining brings in popular culture references that accentuate the feelings of disconnectedness.
Against this backdrop is a cast of characters that are trying to find their way in a fractured world. Vining explores the human psyche through Cole and Monica’s interactions on their respective cases. Both narratives are compelling because they are tackling similar issues from different perspectives. For instance, Cole chooses to internalize his thoughts rather than truly engaging with a virtual psychologist, and he makes the conscious decision to not learn his gunners’ names, because it allows him to remain disconnected from the individual. Monica spends time examining memories of her parents and their dysfunctional relationship. Being able to relate to her situation, her storyline resonated more closely for this reviewer than Cole’s did.
All of the various elements – location, characters, and references to popular culture – congeal well in this noir drama. Readers that enjoy science fiction and crime motifs with introspective main characters are the target audience. Additionally, those individuals that are looking for stories set in the SoCal region will also be interested in NightSun.
Creative Team: Dan Vining (author)
Publisher: Vireo/Rare Bird Books– Los Angeles, California
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