Double Solitaire by Craig Nova [7/10]

Craig Nova is one of the many novelists I’ve often heard praise for but have never gotten around to read. Based on “Double Solitaire,” I have missed out on an immersive stylist of depth. In this genre-style outing, we meet Quinn Farrell, a Los Angeles fixer, someone who cleans up other people’s messes. And in LA, there are more messes than tidiness. Farrell is a wonderful hero, whip smart, easy in his own shoes, but ambivalent about life in the face of his profession. A famous actor produces one morass, then another, and Farrell does what needs to be done, but realizes a greater evil may lurk outside his strict domain. And a neighbour who works in a hospital with terminally ill patients penetrates Farrell’s carapace, the threat of intimacy pushing him to act. The weird but instantly movie-familiar locales occupy center stage as a character, and Nova is a surefooted plotter, but the core strength of this sharp noir novel is the memorably evoked inner life of Farrell. Recommended to read in one sitting, an absorbed sitting.

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