The interesting thing about The Twenty-Year Death is that it is actually three books in one. Winter not only writes three stories, but he writes three stories with drastically different styles. Each novel-within-the-novel is written in a different style of the crime genre. I personally have not read a lot of crime drama, so I went in to this book with no expectations.
The first book, Malniveau Prison takes place in 1931 France. This book is very verbose at times, but it makes up for that by describing crimes committed by prison inmate, Mahossier that make Hannibal Lecter look like an eagle scout. This story follows Chief Inspector Pelleter as he works with local chief of police, Letreau, to solve violent murders in a small town. I felt the Pelleter/Letreau relationship had a Twin Peaks Dale Cooper/Harry Truman feel to it. Which I loved.
The second book, The Falling Star, takes place in Hollywood in 1941. The main character in this story is Private Eye, Dennis Foster, who can’t seem to keep his nose out of where it doesn’t belong, even when that curiosity puts him in danger. This book happened to be my personal favorite of the three.
The final book, Police at a Funeral takes place in Maryland in 1951, twenty years after the first story. The main character of this story is the alcoholic American writer Shem Rosenkrantz. Shem and his wife Clotilde are the seam that holds these stories together. They are central characters of each of the books, but this is the first time we really get to know Shem. He is the perfect antihero. I really liked him even though I was completely disgusted by him.
Overall, I give this novel 3 1/2 smoking guns out of 5. And I recommend that go and buy it for yourself right here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0857685813/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0857685813&linkCode=as2&tag=8daage-20
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