Testarossa by Julie Dolcemaschio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
TBR Challenge 2011: General- Books that have been on my TBR list since before 2011. This one has been on my amazon.com wish list since June 2010.
As I read Testarossa I realized that if done well, the first person POV is an amazingly effective way to immerse your reader in the life and emotions of main character. Julie Dolcemaschio uses the first person POV very well. I heard John's voice as I read the book, actually heard his speaking voice in my head. Each time I picked up the book I stepped into John Testarossa's head and lived there for the duration. I never felt like I didn't know enough about what was going on in other characters heads, because this was how it was suppose to be, this was how we each live, and the writing here was so realistic that I could do that, I could live in Johnny's head and experience his life as he did.
Testarossa is a story of a LA homicide detective. We follow along while Testarossa does his work, day to day. We meet his friends, feel his emotions, experience the horror and the humor. There is one over-arching story in the mix, but the day-to-day work and life of the detective seems to be just as important as the murder mystery. This book is realistic. Nothing was solved in a day or two, and while the detectives worked on one big case, they are continually called out on other cases, which the reader experiences along with the detective. We also he him falling in love. The relationship between Karen and Johnny is so well done. The realism of the relationship might give a few romance readers pause, because this book is less like fiction and more like life, messy.
Testarossa is a complicated man and as the book unfolds we learn of his past and the very large secret he lives with, and how that secret is tearing up the good in his life. At the beginning of each chapter is a short third-person account from Johnny's childhood and young adult life. These short narratives aren't in chronological order, but they help the reader piece together what makes Johnny tick. It is extremely well done, and I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter to get a little more of the back story. John, like his father before him it seems, is a complex mix of honor, violence, weakness, bravery, and fierce loyalty. This isn't a man with a supposed secret, or a hidden sin that turns out not to be what it seems. This is a man who really is tormented about his decisions.
I highly recommend this book, which I believe (hope, pray) is part of a series. The author takes a few pages to find her footing, but by the end of the first chapter John's voice is there and it's mesmerizing. The details of his life, work, love, and the descriptions of the city, the food, and the people come to life. Be forewarned that his book ends without resolution to several things, including John's relationship with Karen, although there is hope. If the next installment where out, I'd be buying it today. This book is like being addicted to a great TV series where you get so invested in the characters you can't wait to get back to them.
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