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Review of Miles Corwin’s Kind of Blue

Miles Corwin’s “Kind of Blue” is a classic police procedural with a complex, lone wolf detective, Ash Levine, as the protagonist assigned to LAPD’s Felony Special unit.

Levine is hired back on the force after a suspension and his subsequent resignation. Despite Levine’s ascerbic personality and a tendency to do his own thing, he has long had the best record for solving crimes in the LAPD. The police brass need his ability to solve crimes quickly to boost their positive PR. They particularly want him to solve the murder of a retired cop. Levine’s own agenda is to go back to solving the robbery and murder of a Korean market owner and the witness he had lined up prior to his suspension.

The title of the book refers to Miles Davis’ jazz album, “Kind of Blue,” one of Levine’s favorites, that he plays during a romantic interlude with a Lebanese-American art dealer. There are some pretty funny sequences between Levine and his Jewish relatives on their opinion about his having a Lebanese girlfriend.

Corwin is a former LA Times crime reporter and a creative non-fiction writer. Corwin obviously has a lot of insight into the workings of the LAPD and other large police departments.

Corwin uses a journalistic style that packs a lot of meaning into each short sentence. He has a way with words that can describe a scene, a feeling or event both descriptively and economically. For example, at the end of the chapter where he has gone to see his would-be girlfriend, Nicole, on a whim it ends: “Now an offshore breeze carried the stench of society garlic–wispy purple flowers that grew in a corner of her yard. The scent of a moldering affair.” Nice.

Levine is not a particularly likeable cop. But you feel for the guy. You recognize that in a very flawed police department he is one of the good guys who worries about protecting his witnesses and is relentless in the pursuit of truth and justice. He’s complex and interesting.

Another good read from Oceanview Publishing which supplied a review copy. This book is due to be released Nov. 1, 2010.

Liz Nichols

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