The Bottom Line: A fast-paced, mesmerizing blend of classic LA noir and contemporary whodunnit.
Bryan Cassiday’s fourth Scott Brody thriller finds the private investigator framed for the the murder of a controversial LA fashion designer. It doesn’t look good for Brody. The explosion that killed designer Max Reed happens not long after Brody delivers a package from local mobster Sal Andrasi, and he knows the clock is ticking before the cops bring him in for questioning.
Early on, Cassiday delivers a delicious slice of irony as Brody risks returning to the scene of the crime (Reed was infamous for shooting fashion ads at actual murder scenes). There he finds Reed’s daughter, Megan, who is trying to get to the bombed penthouse to “examine documents.” She’s also evasive when Brody asks her about a loan shark named Rafe Calabrese.
Meanwhile, Cassiday heightens the intrigue by expanding the lists of possible suspects. As LAPD homicide investigator George Macready and special agent Rieber note, Reed had lots of enemies, including rivals within the industry and animal rights activists. Considering the way the bomb was made and detonated – C-4, ball bearings and triggered via cell tower – they also can’t yet rule out terrorism. Could Reed have been working for the CIA? Readers of Cassiday’s Murder LLC (book two in the series) know that government conspiracies are one of the author’s favorite subjects.
Newcomers to Cassiday’s work will find Threads a perfect series entry point. Cassiday blends classic LA noir ingredients – a sympathetic PI, shady mobsters and family intrigue – with contemporary social mores and technology. The dialogue is crisp and uncomplicated. What’s more, the plot is fast-paced yet complex enough to keep even veteran whodunnit readers guessing until the end.
But Cassiday’s finest invention may be the book’s murder victim. While we experience Reed only briefly in the early chapters, we understand him far better as the story goes on through the remembrances of others. He’s absolutely one of the nastiest and most memorable characters in any of Cassiday’s novels.