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The Last Embrace Paperback – July 1, 2008
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
The suspects were the usual stereotypes; the sinister landlady, the mob boss, the crooked cop and even the thwarted suitor. In the end the killer turned out to be a wild card with a very shaky motive.
This would have been better written in the first person as in many of the other noir fiction books and as the author's Eve Diamond mysteries are written. This book, while interesting, reads like an early attempt at novel writing pulled out of the bottom desk drawer at a publisher's urging. I gave it 3 stars because she did manage to evoke 1940's LA in the telling of an interesting but flawed story. The female spy in the post-war era would still make a great book, just not this one.
Hamilton writes skillful prose and creates an interesting story, but far from the tough-guy language of Chandler and traditional noir there is a girlish quality that runs through the voice of this story. Her heroine is a former OSS WW II spy, which is a promising idea. But rather than convincingly using skills she acquired as a spy, she barrels around like an amateur sleuth putting herself into danger time and again, showing little judgment.
As the story moves along coincidences pile up upon one another, characters cross paths too conveniently and as we get toward the later portion of the novel, clues and leads that were readily discoverable much earlier in the story conveniently emerge when it suits the narratives purposes. Hamilton tale becomes increasingly convoluted, so that she ends up stumbling over herself explaining things away. Soon it becomes clear that much of the action of the novel was simply a series of convoluted red herrings that simply pad the story's length. And most frustratingly once we reach the unmasking of the real killers and the mystery's solution, it has little to do with most of the story we've just read. Aside from being somewhat out of left field...it feels minor and disappointing.
Hamilton also disregards the construction of most noir detective fiction...and most mysteries by intercutting the point-of-view amongst several major characters and even veers off to include moments with minor characters. This also is a frustrating direction for a mystery. In for instance Micheal Connelly's Bosch novels, we remain in Bosch's perspective, discovering clues and leads as he does.Read more ›
I found it was an above-average read, one I could put down, but eventually finished.
Lily made an interesting, if not completely fascinating, protagonist, but the story was somewhat uneven, with many lightweight, stereotypical,interchangeable, and unmemorable supporting characters.
I have to give Hamilton credit for her most of research into postwar Southern California, especially for finding a way to include movie-star cameos without making them seem forced. I found that her digressions into Ray Harryhausen and the special effects wizardry took me out of the story, and read a bit too much like the reference material Hamilton must have consulted along the way. It wasn't that it was dull to read, it just seemed more biographical rather than expository fictional writing, sounding a bit out of place in the context of the story.(A bit like if a comic-book artist had appeared in the story, and suddenly we got a three-page digression on how Superman was created).
Hamilton tried hard to make Lily a strong lead character, adequately addressing her concerns about her future life and place in postwar society and for the most part, she succeeded. However, I would have liked to see Hamilton give Lily some of that 'noir swagger' the author discussed in her afterword. There were moments when Lily seemed a bit too passive, though she at least took control of the action eventually.
The real problem was that the story had too thin a plot to support so many characters, and as a result, some of the loose ends were tied up less neatly than others. Perhaps Hamilton has a sequel in mind, but for all liky's strengths as a character, I wonder if she could carry another book.
All in all, it was a nice try, but not quite 'gritty' or 'heavy' enough to rank as modern classic 'detective noir' fiction.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the type of book that makes for good reading on a long trip or at a beach somewhere with lazy, sun-drenched days to enjoy. Read morePublished on November 6, 2013 by Matt Mansfield
Happy to get this most interesting book about a true crime case set in the most interesting era in L.A.Published on May 3, 2013 by Amy E. Condit
I expected a better story. I wanted to be excited and confused in good way. This book did not meet my expectations at all.Published on October 15, 2012 by This is me.
As a 3rd generation Angeleno, I looked forward to reading about streets and scenes my mother often referenced. I was disappointed. Read morePublished on September 15, 2008 by Pat, LA Native
Denise Hamilton takes the reader back to Los Angeles, in the heyday of Hollywood, for two violent weeks in 1949 in her first standalone, The Last Embrace. Read morePublished on July 23, 2008 by Lesa Holstine