City of Sinners
D.C. Iannussi
Longbridge Books 2008
206 pages

City of Sinners is D.C. Iannuzzi’s first book and with any luck it will not be his last. Iannuzzi draws wonderful characters and places them in one of the more interesting political climates in North America – Montreal, Quebec where the French oligarchy reigns without giving a thought to noblesse oblige. It is a political climate that Iannuzzi characterizes very well. He spins out the wing nut arguments from the minority view point as well as from the master’s voice all the while developing a complex plot that takes advantage of the bizarre realpolitik of Quebec.

Iannuzzi’s characters are interesting, personable and well drawn if a little sparse on the depth chart. This is a thin quick read of a book that hovers between political thriller and caper story before the final reveal. Iannuzzi’s style is tight, lean and very clean if it is on the page it is because he wants it there but that doesn’t prevent him from trying to pad the story just a little with a side bar into the romantic side of things. While these very brief “romance interludes” are also used to move a small aspect of the plot forward the same could have been done without the romance component. It is difficult to look at these aspects of the book and not think that they are the ground work for a more fleshed out Detective Johnny Emory in the future.

The premise of the book is simple enough (this is not giving anything away that the reader won’t discover in the first twelve pages of the novel) a terrorist group sends a letter to detective Johnny Emory. The letter warns Emory that they intend to do violence in the name of the all minorities living in Quebec ostensibly to motivate the French ruling class to abandon laws that make discrimination against minorities part of the legitimate legal structure of Quebec. Naturally this precipitates an investigation which is politically charged and hazardous to negotiate.

All of this combined would make for a good story if it hadn’t already been on the silver screen before. It was a little disappointing that such a good read was suddenly turned into a let down right at the climax of the storyline. It could just be inexperience on Iannuzzi’s part or it could be that he has never seen a Bruce Willis movie. City of Sinners is a good read while it lasts but the reveal, once you realize which Willis movie is being paralleled, is less than satisfying. Iannuzzi is good so it would be nice to see another book from him in the future.