Monday, August 23, 2021

City Problems - Steve Goble


City Problems
is the first book in what its author, Steve Goble, intends to be a series featuring Ohio detective Ed Runyon. 


As the novel opens, Runyon is an emotionally damaged former NYPD investigator who has settled into the same job in a rural Ohio setting in which he hopes that he can heal while continuing to do his job. Runyon knows that he has a problem because his therapist, his friends, and his lover all tell him so. He’s not fooling anyone about that, even himself. But now, the very thing that drove him over the edge in the big city setting of New York is threatening to do it all over again in small-town Ohio. 


“The Joker was a trickster God in a universe without rules, sense, or justice. I didn’t want to live in a universe like that and maybe sometimes I still worry I do live in a universe like that. I’d used booze, pills, therapy and meditation ever since New York in an attempt to not see the universe that way. And now, here I was looking for a missing girl while memories stalked my mind, like Grendel at Herot.”


Runyon sincerely believes that he could have saved the life of a young woman murdered in NYC if he had only focused more intently on finding her sooner than he did. He still has nightmares about the way he finally found her and what she must have suffered before dying. So now, as he helps an investigator from the “big city” of Columbus, Ohio, follow leads about a girl who disappeared from there after a party, Runyon so much dreads failing again that he can barely sleep at night. And he wants nothing more than to kill her abductor with his own hands when he finds him. His city problems have followed him all the way to a small town in Ohio.


Bottom Line: Steve Goble has a very readable writing style, one that makes City Problems a quick read despite it being well over 300 pages long. This is not a complex plot at all. Most of its backstory is used to explain, or hint at, why Ed Runyon is the man he is today and how he ended up in rural Ohio. Runyon only becomes involved in a couple of other police incidents during the novel, and unlike as usually happens in more complicated plots, both of those incidents are quickly enough wrapped up. They serve as distractions to Runyon, making him feel guilty about not being able to entirely focus his efforts on the search for the missing girl.  That said, I do not feel that Goble plays completely fairly with his readers in this one because the culprit turns out to be someone that is largely invisible throughout the bulk of the novel. There is a good bit of misdirection here, and that’s part of the fun, but I suspect that veteran readers of mysteries and crime novels are going to feel a little frustrated at the end of this one. 


Steve Goble

10 comments:

  1. Great review Sam. I hadn't heard of this new series but, your review makes me curious.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. I think it's a promising series, but only if the author plays a little fairer with his clues in book two.

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  2. I will keep a lookout for this new series.

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    1. I'm curious about a second book because a major change comes to the character's life at the end of this one.

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  3. New author and new series. I'm interested as you mention "fun" and maybe "frustration." :)

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    1. Jen...a little more of the "frustration" factor than I normally put up with, but the story flows so well that I'm willing to try another.

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  4. You do find some interesting mystery series to read. I had not heard of this one either.

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    1. The series has some promise, Dorothy...book two will decide it for me.

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  5. There should be clues, or at least some suspicion! Misdirection is valid and great, but when the killer is finally revealed at the end, as a reader, you shouldn't be completely caught off-guard. At least, I don't like to be.

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    1. Exactly right, Lark. And I don't think that's really what happened here unless I missed something really, really important along the way.

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