Jonathon King's The Blue Edge of Midnight won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel of 2002. And, one of my co-workers from Florida recently reminded me that three of us pushed that book to every library patron we thought would read it. My library branch did an enormous circulation on the book, far beyond any other branch in the system. We admired it then. I still admire it, but it's harder to interest readers in Arizona six years later.
However, if anyone wants to understand Florida, they should read Jonathon King's books. He describes Florida as vividly as any other writer of crime fiction. King makes a reader feel the heat and humidity of Florida. Here's part of the opening paragraph of The Blue Edge of Midnight. "It was past midnight and a three-quarter moon hung in the South Florida sky. In the spillover behind me, tea-colored water from the falls burbled and swirled, roiling up against itself and then spinning off in curls and spirals until going flat and black again downstream. And I could see the outlines of thick tree limbs and dripping vine and the slow curve of water bending around a corner before it disappeared into darkness." And, "This time of year in South Florida, high summer when the afternoon rains came like a rhythm, this ancient river to the Everglades spread its banks into the cypress and sabal palms and flooded the sawgrass and pond apple trees until the place looked more like a drowning forest than a tributary."
I've never been a reader for setting and description, but King's Florida comes to life. And, of course, this is the novel that introduces his series character, Max Freeman, a former Philadelphia cop who fled to the Everglades when he killed a child in self-defense. Now, when he finds a child's body in the river, he's dragged unwillingly into a case involving a string of killings. Suddenly, Freeman is a suspect, a target, and the only one capable of finding a killer.
Maybe Jonathon King's books are just as popular in Florida as his one was in 2002. They should be. However, The Blue Edge of Midnight deserves to be read, and, not just one of Friday's "Forgotten" Books.
Jonathon King's website is www.jonathonking.com
The Blue Edge of Midnight by Jonathon King. Onyx, Pub. Date 2003. ISBN 9780451410788 (paperback), 288p.
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