- Author: Joe Hefferon
- Released: 20th May 2017 by Evolved Publishing LLC
- Category: Hardboiled, Noir, Crime, Mystery, Book Review
A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.
Lynn Killian left Chicago in 1948. She wanted a new life in a new place with a new name. With no particular plan in mind she headed west. Who she left behind would never really leave her. She would always wonder.
Fast forward sixteen years and Jimmy Filkins, a reporter captivated and preoccupied by the thought of his ongoing project. A story he desperately wants to write based on his interviews with Nina Ferrer, interior designer to Hollywood’s elite. Nina’s story, as she recounts it to Filkins, begins with murder and a telegram. That telegram changes her life forever. Her now teenaged son, who she left behind in Chicago all those years ago is in desperate trouble. The events set in motion culminated with Nina being incarcerated and the interviews with Filkins taking place in what was known locally as the LA County lock up.
Alongside Nina’s account and the flashbacks leading to her present situation, are the activities of several other key players and how they all converge. Nina’s husband, Arturo, and his shady contact, Morris Canfield. CS, the private investigator hired by Nina to help Steven, the boy accused of murder and, of course, Jimmy Filkins. Recounting the previous months helps Nina to come to terms with what her life has become.
Nina offered insight to her husband’s legion of business cohorts, and a few of his less-likeable acquaintances, one in particular. Morris ‘Mo’ Canfield would play a central role in her drama, along with his effervescent wife, Audrey. Nina confirmed a rumor about her husband’s smuggling of cigars from his native Cuba, and explained how he used his legitimate business dealings in Galveston as a pretext to conduct less socially acceptable transactions, at least one of which involved Mo Canfield.
Initially the structure threw me a little. Not sure why because I normally quite like flashbacks driving a story. Maybe because the sections were mostly short, the timeline seemed disjointed and I wasn’t able to engage enough. Anyway, I reread the first 10% or so and it became much clearer and easier to follow. The narrative continued to swing back and forth between past and present, timelines and characters, but I’m glad to say it wasn’t confusing any longer. I was more at ease with the writing style and could settle in to the story.
The setting is 1960s Hollywood and, along with the associated superficiality, the time and place is evident. Once I was over that first hurdle I enjoyed the story and the way Nina’s background unfolded. Her desperation to vindicate her son served to open her eyes to the people around her, who she thought she could trust, and made her realise how futile her life had become. Perhaps it could also become her salvation.
Nina grew on me, she’s strong and forthright. The supporting characters are also well-rounded. The prose tends towards the lyrical (if that’s the right word), with snappy dialogue, which seems in keeping with the narrative.
Jimmy Filkin expressing his thoughts about Nina…
“It’s a good thing I’m content with my profession and my wife, because a woman like Nina Ferrer could make a man wish he had a different collection of parts to his being, which, when aligned just so, might help him become attractive to her. I’ve never met a woman who could change the temperature of a room by walking into it, a woman with a grace and muscular conscience that interacts like polymers to form a new quintessence of femininity.”
I chose to read and review The last Meridian for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on an advance reader copy supplied by the author.
Retired law enforcement. Enjoying the process of creating a second career as a writer.