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on March 13, 2010
It takes serious balls to begin a book with your protagonist deliberately putting a bullet into his own head, but that's exactly how Vincent Zandri kicks off his high-octane new thriller Moonlight Falls. Richard "Dick" Moonlight, you see, is not your typical protagonist. In fact, he's seriously screwed up. As one character tells him, "You fell off the tree of f'd-up-weird and slammed every branch on the way down." F'd-up-weird notwithstanding, it's the fragment of .22 bullet left in his brain following his book opening suicide attempt that forces Moonlight's retirement from the Albany police department.

Unable to commit to a new job because the placement of the bullet fragment leaves him prone to untimely blackouts and seizures, not to mention serious lapses in judgment, Moonlight finds himself being called upon by his former partner to serve as an outside investigator on cases that need a discrete, but 'official', rubber stamping in order to close them... for a fee, of course.

This arrangement becomes a problem when he's called to the scene of the apparent suicide of Scarlet Montana, wife of his ex-boss Chief of Detectives Jake Montana. Unlike previous callouts, Moonlight can't bring himself to rubber stamp suicide as the cause of death, collect his under the table fee and be done with it. The sticking point? Not only was Moonlight having an affair with her, but he had been with her only hours before her death. What's more, given his spotty memory - not to mention the bloody, scratched up hands he doesn't remember acquiring - he honestly doesn't know if he could have killed her. But he's determined to find out what really happened to Scarlet, no matter what the consequences to himself may be.

What unfolds over the course of his investigation provides a non-stop, tension filled ride for the reader; one that includes a mysterious albino, Fugitive-esque pursuit by authorities, grave robbing, a police conspiracy, and a black market organ harvesting ring. There is so much going on that even the most accomplished reader of mysteries and thrillers will be hard pressed to figure out in advance what really happened, as Moonlight Falls delivers twists and swerves right up until the final chapter, even after having seemingly revealed the answer to the mystery.
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It must be noted that Vincent Zandri's MOONLIGHT FALLS (UNCUT Edition) is explicitly described as an early draft from which the final version, Moonlight Falls, was eventually published. Predating his later "Moonlight" works by about three years, this work does read like a draft. In fact, the main character, Dick Moonlight, is referred to as Dick DIVINE with the surname "Moonlight" nowhere to be found, at least in the Kindle version I purchased.

In any case, Zandri has an intriguing premise for his protagonist, an ex-cop and private investigator who is a failed suicide still carrying the bullet he used in his head. Said bullet causes problems like short term memory loss and lack of emotional control on occasion. Having read the succeeding three "Dick Moonlight" works (Moonlight Rises,Blue Moonlight,Murder by Moonlight) the genesis of Zandri's character is perfectly clear here.

I'd recommend this only for the true Zandri fan who can see the genesis of his much later, more competent works and would discourage anyone who has never read his work from starting with this specific novel. Like me, you could get the impression that he is not a very good writer. He is a very good writer, just not in this early work. His "noir" style is fairly pedestrian in this book. Given that "noir" is heavily about atmosphere and style, this is a big problem for the entire book.

Nonetheless, it is entertaining and reads at a nice pace. You could do worse reading this while sitting on the beach (or a bus or a train or a plane).
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on March 13, 2010
Did Scarlet Montana commit suicide or was she brutally murdered? This is the mystery that Richard Moonlight, ex-Albany Police Department Detective and budding massage therapist must solve, especially since he has been accused of her murder. To make matters worse, he was Scarlett's lover and was with her near the time of her death. He also has a self-inflicted bullet fragment in his brain that may dislodge at any moment and cause his own death. With Moonlight Falls, Vincent Zandri has crafted a fast-moving, tightly woven whodunit that will keep you guessing how Scarlet actually died up until the very last page. The characters, especially Moonlight, are finely drawn and eminently believable, and his picture-perfect descriptions of Albany will make you feel as if you're experiencing all of the action yourself. This is a must read for lovers of mysteries and thrillers. I would love to see a Moonlight series!
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on September 5, 2013
Even though I haven't read anything by this author I would look for another written by him. It was humorous, mysterious, thrilling. It was a really good read and I would highly recommend it. Right away you like the subject of the book and following his adventure was great. You will enjoy it.
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on April 30, 2012
I'm not clear on what if any differences are contained in the uncut version that I read on kindle. I did think it was pretty well written, a cut above the typical low priced offerings. The story was a bit confusing, in particular the periodic scenes representing the present which, at least innitially hadn't been established, clearly, as post-dating the main story line.
The fact that two different characters, our hero & the husband of the victim, are uncertain whether or not they themselves was her killer was curious but believably presented. The hero's symptoms from his self-inflicted head wound, and his resultant reliance on the part-time work offered by his former partner and superior were also presented well enough to escape the clutches of disbelievability.
All in all a good read. It ends confined to its own limited scope, without venturing into the broader spectrum of organized crime involvement which was clearly in the background but only briefly brought to the forefront. Treated so periferally, I did not find this objectionable. I'd probably go 3.5 if there was such a rating.
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on December 26, 2013
This was an interesting mystery, with some nice twists and an intriguing detective who's walking around with a fragment of a bullet in his brain, which creates some interesting problems for him. Having worked many years in New York's capitol, Albany, it was nice reading a book with that setting. Unfortunately, there were some serious errors, including the fact that the city has a population 2-1/2 times as large as the author reports (so easy to look up to check!). Several references to Albany's small size and general unimportance play a part in the story. The author would have done better to choose one of the smaller cities near Albany for that. A good copy editor would do the book well: missing and extra words, grammar check, homonym problems (currier for courier, waist for waste, etc.), and so forth. At times, it's a struggle to suspend disbelief, especially with the accidental find of the murder weapon. The final twist, though interesting, could have done with more skillful foreshadowing. With a mystery, the reader should at least have a decent chance of figuring it out, or at least to feel a resounding satisfaction when the reveal comes.

If you're a reader who doesn't mind or notice such problems, you should have a good time here. The final dilemma confronting the detective poses an interesting question--what would you do in his place?
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on October 23, 2014
I've found another flawed hero to follow, it's a theme I am comfortable with. Heroes that never miss and do almost everything the right just don't play anymore This one was hard to put down, the plot flowed quite well, though I'm glad I have the uncut version. The internal dialogue of some of the other main players helped fill in the blanks. I think some holes would have shown up in the cut version, especially with some of the events that occurred in the story. That additional perspective helped flesh out some of the other players too and made the story more believable. Dick Moonlight who is that? His name is on the title though he never appears. Not a difficult mystery to pick up on, though the race to seek justice and avert disaster made this a captivating read. Add Dick Divine to the list of hard-boiled detectives giving us a glimpse of the twisted world they inhabit while trying to make sense of it. You'll be glad you took the time to look at it through his eyes.
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on August 19, 2014
Dick Moonlight is a cop. He'd previously attempted suicide and lived. A bullet fragment remains inside his head causing him to sometimes make unwise decisions and/or not remember things.

Working as a part-time cop, he becomes accused of the murder of the wife of the police chief...with whom he had been intimate. He can't remember.......

This was an excellent mystery, lots of twists and well developed characters. I highly recommend this book.
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on April 13, 2013
It seems every hero has to have some flaw or disability these days, but (without giving too much away) the lead character in this book goes one step further. I found it a little disconcerting that the book is about Dick Moonlight, but throughout the version I read, they continually referred to him as Dick Divine. While I never quite worked that out, it's a good murder mystery. Just with a little identity problem.
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on May 7, 2011
OMG! What a read! Loved every word and could not put it down until the last word on the last page, then I returned to the beginning and re-read it all over again. Loved it even more than the first time around.
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