Book Review: One Day You’ll Burn
One Day You’ll Burn manages to achieve something few novels manage to succeed at doing: create a palpable sense of atmosphere and place. Not only that, but it manages to do so without being heavy-handed or overblown. Focusing on a grisly crime in Los Angeles, Joseph Schneider paints an image of southern California that sears into the reader’s imagination, one where the sun does not warm and nourish so much as scorch and scar. The Los Angeles of One Day You’ll Burn is a world where sin and squalor are baked into the concrete, and the glamour of Hollywood is a distant distraction from the fallen nature of the world. Is it an original take on the so-called City of Angels? Certainly not, but it’s well done and Schneider distinguishes himself with his imagery.
The central character in One Day You’ll Burn is Detective Tully Jarsdel, an intelligent police officer with a background in teaching higher education, but a personal crisis led him to jettison his dissertation and join the police force. Jarsdel’s likeable without Schneider going overboard in making the reader root for him, and it’s clear that Jarsdel is his own worst enemy in overcoming his personal emotional stumbling blocks. A couple of brief scenes with his overbearing family members who either can’t or won’t understand him do a great job in creating a solid sense of what Jarsdel’s youth was like without providing too many details.
From the beginning, with an opening crime scene centered around a corpse charred to a crisp, the narrative kept me intrigued, and even when some of the settings had been used before in other L.A. themed books, movies, and TV shows, the characters acted as if they were discovering something new, which was enough to provide the necessary freshness to keep it going. The story meanders here and there, but after a few pages of wandering adrift, everything gets back on track pretty fast. The climax is a bit rushed, but overall, One Day You’ll Burnis a strong book that provides an absorbing experience for readers.
One Day You’ll Burn
By Joseph Schneider
Poisoned Pen Press