REVIEW: Madison Square Murders (Memento Mori #1) by C.S.Poe
Everett Larkin works for the Cold Case Squad: an elite—if understaffed and overworked—group of detectives who solve the forgotten deaths of New York City. Larkin is different from others, but his deduction skills are unmatched and his memory for minute details is unparalleled.
So when a spring thunderstorm uproots a tree in Madison Square Park, unearthing a crate with human remains inside, the best Cold Case detective is assigned the job. And when a death mask, like those prominent during the Victorian era, is found with the body, Larkin requests assistance from the Forensic Artists Unit and receives it in the form of Detective Ira Doyle, his polar opposite in every way.
Factual reasoning and facial reconstruction puts Larkin and Doyle on a trail of old homicide cases and a murderer obsessed with casting his victims’ likeness in death. Include some unapologetic flirting from Doyle, and this case just may end up killing Everett Larkin.
I wrote this rant right after I finished the book. After muling this one for couple of days I decided that any attempt at even measured and well reasoned review just not going to happen, so I left my initial rant in place.
So, this is more of a short rant with SPOILERS no less, but don’t worry no spoilers about the mystery, except my confusion with the final resolution of the mystery plot. Mostly there are some spoilers about the main character and his marriage.
I hated Everett Larkin. Selfish prick. Yes, yes I know he is supposed to be traumatized by the event in the past and this rewired his whole brain and now he is what he is and everybody is supposed to be understanding and stuff.
Only he does not have to, he can ignore his husband as he pleases, his texts, his attempts at communication at saving their marriage. I just could not spare an ounce of sympathy for poor traumatized Larkin. I hoped that his husband, whom he ignores and then leaves, would find somebody who would love and appreciate him.
I don’t even know why I got so upset. Normally I am the kind of reader who is perfectly happy even with cheating in my romances as long as it influences the plot and character development – basically when it makes sense. There is no cheating in this book, but it is just that I was so obviously reading and interpreting against the author’s intent that I can’t deal with it.
Larkin tells us that Noah ignored poor him, but on the page is the absolute opposite. Argh.
Also, and I don’t deny that it is a secondary issue, very secondary, but at times I thought that he was a badly drawn Holmes caricature. Of course there are tons of super observant detectives, but would they solve the case every single time in real life? Every. Single. Time?
The mystery plot itself was fine, and normally I would have been admiring Larkin’s dedication to his work in the Cold Cases Unit, to bringing justice to the victims, and being upset when he could not do so.
The resolution was extremely strange. We do get our killer at the end, or do we? There was a hint at the very last page that the killer may not have been caught if I read it correctly and if I did read it correctly, there is nothing more annoying than the mystery with no killer caught at the end.
I mean I get that it is a first book, but I thought that in the next books Larkin and Doyle will be working on their relationship and mysteries will still be solved at the end of each book. Maybe not. Not that I am likely to find out.
I really liked this one! I saw the review and rushed over to share the love, and it turns out you didn’t like it, LOL!
I am sorry you didn’t enjoy it. The author can be hit or miss for me. I tend to like her characters and stories, but in too many of them a character does something stupid to further the plot. I was relieved that didn’t happen here.
I did feel a little sorry for Noah but felt that Larkin had legitimate complaints.
It’s been a while since I read the book and my memory for details is crap so I can’t give specific examples. I did have pretty much the opposite of your experience though, and I’m looking forward to the next book.
@MaryK: Yep I am very much an odd man out on this one I know! I just did not see where Noah ignored Larkin you know ? if that happened in the past, in my opinion the author should have shown that, because all I saw is Noah begging for scraps of his attention and Larkin ignoring him, and saying that Noah did not pay attention to him. I am glad you enjoyed this one, I think if Noah was not there, I may have enjoyed it much better, but that would have been a different story of course.
I don’t think Noah ignored Larkin in the sense of giving him the silent treatment. I think he ignored him in the sense that he disregarded Larkin’s explanations and didn’t understand his condition. Larkin basically has an invisible disability. I know what that’s like so I’m inclined to cut him a lot of slack. :)
I think the author could’ve made Noah an ex without as much page time, and it would’ve been substantially the same story without all the relationship angst.
It’s always interesting to see how a given book can garner such different views, so thank you, Sirius and MaryK. This does intrigue me, so I’m off to get a sample.
My biggest issues with the book was that Larkin was married, and was emotionally (if not physically) cheating on his husband.
Yes, Noah didn’t really understand his brain issues, but that’s no excuse.
I was fascinated with Larkin though, because the idea of never being able to escape the emotions associated with a memory was utterly horrifying, and I didn’t understand how he ever left the house. To have to relive every bad thing every time an association came up? (shudder) I honestly don’t think I could manage it. It’s the opposite of those stories where you can erase memories, which on some level sounds amazing. I mean, I’d really like to not be haunted by mistakes I made as forty years ago (thanks brain). So that’s what drew me into the story, more than anything else.
@MaryK: I think I would have been a lot harsher on Noah and cut Larkin some slack if I saw Larkin trying too and not just expecting ( IMO of course ) for Noah to provide for his emotional needs and support and giving nothing in return you know ? Oh, I would have liked for Noah to be an ex without much page time absolutely.@Random Michelle: I agree that Larkin’s memory issues may not have been very easy to bear, no question about it. I totally understand where you saw emotional cheating, but I did not even see that, I felt as if Larkin already moved on from his husband even before any potential love interest came along. what did you think about mystery plot?
I read it when it first came out, so my memory of the story is vague, and I helpfully noted that I found the mystery interesting. So this is a cloudy memory, but I felt the current mystery was solved, but there might be a greater underlying issue, which I am ok with for a police or PI story, because things aren’t resolved neatly in real life. (Some of my favorite mysteries in a series end up being ones where the police know whodunnit, but don’t have enough evidence, and the bad guy gets away with it It’s emotionally aggravating, but it’s also far more real. (Donna Leon, for one, did this, which emphasized to me how very hard the Italian system must be to deal with, and how easy it could be for Brunetti to slip into corruption.)
As far as infidelity,
See. that’s what I took issue with. Larkin had moved on. But Noah hadn’t and was still obviously invested (even if he was contributing to the problem). Which wasn’t fair to anyone.
@Random Michelle: I found the mystery interesting, but I do want the bad guy to be caught . To me mystery where it did not happen does not belong to mystery genre, same as Romance is not that without a happy ending . I mean, I thought that bad guy was caught, it seemed pretty clear, but last chapter made me confused I have to say.
Right, I agree that Noah had not moved on yet, absolutely and Larkin’s disregard for him was definitely something that I took an issue with, but to me it was in some ways worse than cheating – I felt like Larkin moved on before Ira appeared in his life. I guess that if cheating is to be defined as completely ignoring your partner’s needs without concentrating your thoughts ( we are only discussing whether emotional cheating took place) on somebody else, then I agree – he cheated and it bothered me ( as I mentioned in my review very often cheating does not bother me at all, but if this was cheating then in this story it definitely bothered me.
That’s actually an interesting point, about the baddie getting caught to be a “true” mystery. For me, I have to know *who* dunnit, but bad guys getting away with it is so common in the real world, it actually bothers me if the detective *always* gets the baddie locked up. But then one of my all-time favorite mysteries is Robert B Parker’s “Small Vices” which has a hella complicated resolution.
And I misread your original cheating line (my fault!) The first book of the Snow & Winter series skirted the line about cheating (what with the two technically split up), and I wasn’t thrilled to see something similar here. And yeah, Larkin had moved on IMO as well. I felt like his “truthfulness” in admitting he kissed Ira was unnecessarily cruel.
But mostly I think I was so fascinated by the memory issue, I was willing to forgive the story quite a bit.