Eccentric private eye Charlie Waldo is back with a new client, a wild and privileged L.A. teenager named Stevie Rose who disappears after her teacher turns up dead. Stevie's self-involved Hollywood parents turn to Waldo to find her, a task that draws him down into Orange County’s dangerous and complex worlds, both opulent and seedy, where nothing is as it seems.
While Waldo’s schtick gets a bit old here, Gould’s mystery writing is honed to a razor-sharp finish, with a striking cast of characters who seem to leap off the page ... Below the Line is very much a character-driven novel, and as irritating as Waldo is at times, Gould fills his creation with enough positive qualities to make him somewhat endearing, even as Waldo’s rabid anti-consumerism almost gets in the way of the story on occasion. Lorena provides an interesting, if excessive, balance to the team and to the story. As a result, it isn’t until the very end of the book that the reader discovers how everything turns out. Maybe. Read it and see.
While his quirks are slightly over the top, probably, Gould still manages to make his protagionist likable. The better word might be memorable ... Howard Michael Gould has shown to be one of the freshest voices on the crime thriller scene in years, and his latest, Below the Line, is a fun, twisting read that proves his series has a long, bright future ahead of it.
Readers will think Charlie is either a hoot, or a role model, or beyond boring in his environmental machinations. At any rate, far too much of the book is lavished on a character quirk, rather than a character. The private-eye work here moves well ... The narrative sags in the Charlie eco parts, but otherwise the novel offers a well-plotted trip through some dangerous regions.