Monday, October 22, 2018

Review: Charlesgate Confidential

Charlesgate Confidential Charlesgate Confidential by Scott Von Doviak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for murder and mayhem in temporary lodgings then the Charlesgate should be mentioned along with the Overlook and Bates Motel.

The Charlesgate was once the swankiest hotel in Boston, but by 1946 it’s become a wretched hive of scum and villainy. After a poker night for gangsters gets robbed the guy running the game wants revenge. By 1986 the Charlesgate is student housing for a local college when one of the residents begins looking into the building’s history for a series of articles in the school paper, and he gets a very juicy story from a man recently released from prison. Cut to 2014 and the Charlesgate has been renovated into high priced condos, and a murder in one of these apartment seems to be linked to paintings worth millions that were stolen back in 1946 and never recovered.

This is a very solid debut novel from Scott Von Doviak who lived in the actual Charlesgate as a student in the ‘80s. He mixes in some of its real history with the spooky stories that surrounded it along with a famous Boston museum heist (Although he’s used creative license to move that from 1990 to 1946.) to create an intriguing puzzle box of a book. We shift through the three different time frames with the narratives eventually combining into one large story. It’s very well written and has a good page turning quality to it. There’s also some nice work done to establish the tone of each time period and the characters in it.

At just under 400 pages it’s a shade too long, and while I liked the ultimate resolution and theme the ending seems a little anti-climactic. The book also suffers from a common problem when the author is a Red Sox fan in that they think that the rest of us are just as interested in reliving their tales of woe over the years as they are. Yeah, yeah. You had it tough for a long time, but since Boston has won about 417 championships in various sports including baseball in the 21st century I don’t have a lot of patience or sympathy for it anymore. (However, I will be glad to talk to about the ups and downs of being a Kansas City Royals fan.)

Overall, it was still a good piece of crime fiction, and I’d like to see more from Von Doviak. I’d call it 3.5 stars if Goodreads gave us the option, but since they don’t I’m going with 3.

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