By Jannis Jones
Based on the screenplay by Jannis Jones and Jason Rohan
Every once and a while I like to pick up a book that is outside of my usual genre. While I’m usually an SF or Fantasy fan, it’s always a treat to find a well thought out crime novel, something to get my mind racing and heart pumping. B-side was that book for me: intriguing and wildly engaging, it transported me to California and right into the lives of two fantastic women reeling through tragedy. And it was epic.
So many ways to spend your anniversary night. Praying your partner survives a vicious assault by an unknown attacker is not high on the list, but for LAPD detective Mara Bays, this is the reality.
Theories abound – a gay hate crime, a random assault, a revenge attack – but no leads. When her personal connection shuts her out of the investigation, Mara must rely on her colleagues to handle the case.
This book was initially written as a screenplay, and the strengths of that medium remain: reading it was like watching a movie. Very dialogue heavy, the complexity of the characters unfolds through their conversations, their mannerisms, their little tics. Through this, you can sort of guess the ending, piece together the clues, but when the ending finally arrives it’s massively surprising.
While the author breaks the rule of showing not telling, because of the screenplay feel, it doesn’t feel obtrusive. In fact, it allows us to ‘see’ what happens all the more vividly. The author also doesn’t over describe her scenes, which allow for the mind to take over. It’s an easy book to read thanks to it following ‘movie’ rules: short, intense, with bright and memorable characters and scenes. It also allows the reader/viewer to see LA through many different perspectives, creating a full picture of the beautiful – and the bad.
But what we’re here for is the story, and while it is simple, it was still unexpected. The author manages to reel you in because you care so much for Casey and Mara from page one: you want to know why this happened, and you are as dedicated as Mara to follow through. Unlike the detective novels I have read in the past, it feels like a police procedural and more… personal. I don’t know if that’s the word for it. But it’s not cold like a mystery, and not chilling like a thriller, it’s dramatic and vibrant and human.
I highly recommend B-Side to anyone who enjoys a good whodunnit, but also to fans of contemporary fiction, as it packs an emotional punch!