Miles Corwin- Midnight Alley/The Killing Season

Ash Levine, the top detective in the LAPD’s elite Felony Special Squad, is called out to solve the murder of two young black men found shot to death in a Venice alley. The case is a high priority because one of the victims is the son of City Councilman Isaac Pinkney, a frequent critic of the LAPD. Searching for the killer throws Levine into the world of Los Angeles’s Russian Mafia, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and Middle Eastern archeologists. Ash’s history as a child of a Holocaust survivor gives him a unique perspective on murder, redemption, and justice. His background as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, and his relentless, single-minded focus on his investigations make him a thoroughly absorbing character. As Ash closes in on the killer, the investigation becomes increasingly complex – and personal. Ash soon discovers that he is not just an investigator, but a target…

The second Ash Levine investigation (following ‘ Kind of Blue’) from former LA Times reporter Miles Corwin and a gripping police procedural packed with action from the outset. I’m a long time fan of Michael Connelly, Joseph Wambaugh and Elmore Leonard, so delighted that there is a new kid on the block, in terms of Los Angeles based crime fiction, and on the evidence of this, I think Corwin could be a worthy addition to these luminaries of American crime fiction.

 This is a multi-stranded plot with a seamless transition between the every day grind of the LA police department, to a tale involving sex trafficking, the smuggling of a stolen Iraqi relic and a conspiracy involving the US military. The plotting and pace is superb throughout but what really impressed me about the novel was the depth of characterisation particularly in relation to the main character of Ash Levine. Levine is a breath of fresh air in terms of the depiction of the average American detective, being both Jewish and having served as a paratrooper with the Israeli Army, balancing his army training with the necessary demands of being an LAPD detective, sometimes to the chagrin of his immediate superiors. He is a dogged and determined character who will stop at nothing, despite having an Internal Investigation, hanging over him, to solve the case. Strongly influenced by his Jewish heritage, he has a high sense of morality influenced by the teachings of the Torah, but is equally at home in the day to day physicality of his detective role with a nifty grasp of Krav Maga. This is particularly evident in the storyline dealing with sex trafficking, and his determination to free a young Russian girl from her incarceration at the hands of the Russia Mafia. The scenes with Levine and his family at Hannukah, and particularly the overbearing attentions of his mother, are a joy, perfectly capturing the verbal sparring and tensions that occur in the average family during the holiday period. In a good little side line to the central plot, as is common in most crime novels, Levine has a broken marriage and his ex Robin, a successful lawyer, drifts in and out of the plot adding to his consternation and his hopes for a reconciliation, and of course his family have plenty to say about this too!

 Having only previously read Corwin’s non-fiction book ‘The Killing Season’ (see review below) he is definitely a writer I will return to on the strength of this novel, and will not hesitate to recommend fans of American police procedurals. I will definitely be seeking out a copy of ‘Kind of Blue’, the first novel featuring Ash Levine, and am looking forward to following this series in the long term if ‘Midnight Alley’ is indicative of Corwin’s fictional prowess. A good find.

 Visit the author’s website here:

 ‘Midnight Alley’ is published by Oceanview Publishing

 Downloaded digital galley from NetGalley:


The Killing SeasonMeet Pete Razanskas, 22-year veteran homicide cop and Marcella Winn, a rookie detective who grew up in the ‘hood. They’re an unlikely partnership whose job it is to attempt to close some of the hundreds of murder cases that happen every year in the gang-infested streets of South-Central LA. Crime reporter Miles Corwin gained unprecedented access to shadow them for the usual hot summer of endless homicide. We meet the cops, the victims and the murders (Crips and Bloods, drug dealers, psychopaths and even killer kids), witness their incredible daily lives and hear their stories in intimate detail.The Killing Season’ is a raw, shocking and riveting story of an extreme place not far from the ordinary world where war rages on the streets and life has little value.

After becoming hooked on the brilliant Southland– a Los Angeles cop drama, it was only natural that this book would appeal. Miles Corwin expertly documents the world of the LAPD detective and the senseless killings that define the South-Central area of Los Angeles. Following a veteran detective- the wonderful Pete Razanskas- and his feisty new partner Marcella Winn- we gain a real insight into the crippling hours, an severely under-funded police department and the physical and emotional effects of this environment, not only on the police officers but also on the the victims of crime and the perpetrators themselves. A truly powerful slice of social commentary but replete with mordant wit and an essential humanity.
‘The Killing Season’  is published by Ebury Press.
(I bought this copy)

October 2012 Round-Up and Raven’s Book of the Month

October has been a very enjoyable month on the reading front, and has taken me far and wide and is probably the first month where I have read no Scandinavian crime fiction- gadzooks!  So, travelling from Glasgow to Canada with a detour to the Arctic Circle, USA, Russia, Iraq and France this month’s blog has been a feast of delights…

Malcolm Mackay’s compelling depiction of the Glasgow underworld,  The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter – the first of a trilogy. Stalwart of the American crime scene Michael Connelly’s latest Harry Bosch thriller,  The Black Box. M.J McGrath’s  White Heat and  The Boy In The Snow featuring Edie Kiglatuk, investigating murder in some pretty inhospitable terrain. A powerful debut action thriller from Will Jordan, Redemption , who was also kind enough to answer my questions (Interview ) A compelling follow-up to ‘The Survivor’ from Canadian author Sean Slater Snakes and Ladders. One of the most remarkable crime thrillers I have ever read and one of the highlights of crime publishing next year I am sure is Pierre LeMaitre’s Alex,  and to get me in the mood for Halloween, Debbie Viguie’s  The 13th Sacrifice.

I have also read S. J Bolton’s latest ‘Dead Scared’ and a crime debut from Mark Roberts ‘The Sixth Soul’.  On the fiction front I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin Power’s thought-provoking  novel ‘The Yellow Birds’  and  a strange little Finnish tale ‘The Human Part’ from Kari Hotakainen. Just one non-fiction this month with Sarah Manguso’s touching memoir of a friend ‘The Guardians- An Elegy’.

I am actually torn between two titles as my Book of the Month, so award a tie between the remarkable French thriller Alex by Pierre LeMaitre and…

Malcolm Mackay’s wonderfully gritty   The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter– both to be published 2013 so make a note…