Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he's fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It's early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly; the economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants is to return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he's drifting toward bankruptcy and is in no position to refuse when he's offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes.
Eilo recently paid a visit to a home that had a ten-year-old child in it, a girl who bears a strong resemblence to Gavin and who has the same last name as Gavin's high school girlfriend Anna, whom Gavin last saw a decade ago. Gavin -- a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed homes, obsessed with film noir and private detectives -- begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter. The Lola Quartet, a work of literary noir, is concerned with jazz, Django Reinhardt, economic collapse, friendship and love, Florida's exotic wildlife problem, fedoras, and the unreliability of memory.
The title and the book cover art of The Lola Quartet give very little indication of the books' contents. Instead of causing me to bypass this book, both the cover and the title intrigued me. I am not sure what I was expecting, but the story within was a pleasant surprise.
I am not sure that this novella fits into any one genre. It is a little bit of a mystery, a bit noir and a bit of a commentary on the mistakes we make during our youth and the ability for these choices to follow us into adulthood.
All of the characters are flawed in some way. Many of the decisions that they make seem to be random choices and not very well thought out. Quite typical of the way most adolescents approach life changing choices. The main character of Gavin is sympathetic, although he seems to live in a reality of his own creation. He develops and grows over the course of the book and by the end appears to be attempting to make some well though out mature decision.
The story weaves back and forth between the present the the past, gradually unveiling an interesting plot. The writing is flawless and flows effortlessly from beginning to end. At some points during the first half, it did seem to drag just a bit, however this is a minor concern. What I really enjoyed about this book was how different it was from anything else I have read recently. St. John Mandle is an author to watch!
Special thanks to Netgallery for the complementary copy of the Lola Quartet, allowing me to read and offer an unbiased review.