A Thin Line is a moral posing book - one that asks questions of the reader and then supplies the answers in this particular case. The story focuses on two detectives in Seattle, Washington whose day to day cases drawn them close to and deep into the seediest and basest side of life. John and his junior partner on the force Todd, investigate and solve the most horrific of the crimes in the county. This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted as the story takes us through murderers, paedophiles, cannibalism and just about any other form of vile human behaviour possible. The author is descriptive and candid when describing crime scenes and victims, so there is plenty of blood and guts.
The book is also about bonding, about fraternity and partnership. John, as the more experienced of the two detectives spends much of his time passing on his philosophy of life to his junior partner, Todd, who despite the good-natured banter between the two, laps it up. Throw in an Irish bartender for John to pour his heart out to when things get a bit too tough out on the mean streets, a loving and understanding wife plus two sweet children and you have a real soap opera of emotions and relationships.
The basic premise of the novel is explored very well in my opinion; that extremely thin line between good and evil, life and death, innocence and guilt or nature vs nurture. The book is extremely fast paced and there is little time to rest between the action. I certainly found it an intriguing read and one I found difficult to put down until I found out the final result.
As I intimated earlier there were just a couple of minor things that caused me to mark this fine book down. The first of these was the chapter length. The chapters were exceptionally short and allowed very little time for character development or for the reader to get to know the protagonists and empathise or identify with them. I found, just as I was getting into one story arc, we were off at breakneck speed on a tangential arc. It wasn't a big deal, but just annoying enough to pick away at me.
The second issue isn't necessarily a criticism of the work, more an observation. Reading the main character John Corbin, I almost got the impression the author wanted to infuse his character with his own personal philosophies about life, about purpose and about what it means to be normal. While there is nothing innately wrong with authors doing this - in fact I'm sure we all do do it, to a lesser or greater extent, I felt it was almost overdone in this character. I guess I might be stereotyping here, but a case-worn detective, who waxes so philosophical at times, seemed to me to be almost out of place and unbelievable. Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading these philosophies, although at times I wondered which was the story; the cases or the philosophy of life?
All that having been said, this was a cracking story with plenty of twists and turns. I really did enjoy it and would definitely recommend it. A good, solid four-star read in my book. What it did do was make me want to read more but David Boiani, but I think this was his debut and only novel to date. I hope he produces more. There's a real talent in there. Great job!