|Reviews for August and Crow|
| Blue-Inked Frost chapter 1 . 1/4
Here from the WA Review Game
Interesting - originalfic! I don't need to excuse myself for not knowing the canon. ;)
I thought that the summary could have been more compelling. "There, sitting in a chair with his feet kicked up on the desk, is a man who I have only ever heard stories about: the greatest private detective in the city, Detective Warden Crow." The summary description makes Warden Crow sound basically like Sherlock Holmes - sits in unconventional ways like an unconventional person and is a great private detective, and doesn't seem to have anything different about him. (Also, you could take out the 'who', i.e. 'a man I have only ever heard stories about' would make sense and be more gramatically correct.) I found the prompt you used, "They found the frozen corpse at the bottom of the cliffs, a ring of keys in his left hand", much more evocative since it described a unique kind of murder.
"The lobby smells like spilled whiskey and cigarettes, and looks like it too." - I thought this line was very much like stereotypical noir.
"it's dirty-blond, looking like someone messed handfuls of dirt into his hair" - For me, the repetition of 'dirt' didn't work.
I do like the detailed character description you put in here. It does remind me of period pieces with their lengthy descriptons. I got the impression of a personally messy character.
"This is the greatest man to ever live in this city." - This escalated quickly! From 'greatest private detctive' to 'greatest man' is a pretty big leap.
"My name is James August, sir." - If this story is set in America, the 'sir' struck me as a shade too respectful for an American of a similar or older age to Crow and equal social position (although I could be wrong about this).
"Your shirt says 'Californian and Proud'." - This section read as a joke that almost landed. I was tempted to try expanding on it:
"Your shirt says 'Californian and Proud'."
I look down at my shirt. "Oh! It does, doesn't it? Right, sorry. Actually, my brother moved to California and sent me this thing for my birthday ... we're really from North Carolina. But good detecting, anyway!"
"I haven't been hired for a case since the police commissioner stopped letting me work with them." - Reading this, I thought it was interesting that James, who was supposedly a big fan of Crow, had somehow not heard about this scandal or noticed a paucity of Crow articles in the past six months.
"I think there was foul play involved, and that it wasn't my fault." - This bit really got me interested, now the plot finally started. Up to the murder mystery, Crow came across as a relatively cliched noir detective; now the plot has set in and I do want to read what happens next.
15,000 is a big sum - so big for a ski station attendant that it made me wonder why he doesn't simply quit and rely on his savings while he searches for a new job. At that point in the story, I felt like James was more concerned for his job than for the murder victim, though he was still somewhat concerned for the victim. Or, alternatively, I wondered if James was the murderer. After reading the whole story, I know you addressed James' salary in the plot, but I still didn't understand how a character like James, who seems pretty naive and diffident and not particularly well qualified and whose actual job duties involve unpacking boxes, gets to earn this huge sum of money. Box handling at ski lifts doesn't seem like it should be that lucrative, even if other risks are involved in other parts of the job. As an alternative suggestion, maybe James could get his high salary from being a nepotism hire from a wealthy family, but his father will cut off his allowance if he is fired for a bad reason, motivating him to seek out a detective.
"His skin is starkly paper-white, so much that it blends with the snow, making the dark features of his face sharply stand out." - Given that his skin is paper-white, the only two dark features he has are his eyebrows and eyes, aren't they? I liked the contrastyness of your description of Evan Thompson very much, but that sentence felt like an invitation to pick nits.
The tension between Crow and Thompson was palpable. Maybe I've spent too much time in slash fandom, but I found it easy to read an attraction between them - instead of simply dismissing each other, they kept talking and talking to each other and bantering as if they couldn't back away from each other.
"decided it'd be a real good idea to unload the boxes at the top of the hill, without checking if anybody was down there" - Thinking about this scenario, where James had to check on an 'in case they fall' basis, made me wonder what the actual safety regulations are. Surely it would be better for the ski company to require employees to place more emphasis on the 'don't let the boxes fall at all' safety check rather than the 'check under the boxes in case they will fall on a person' safety check.
"Don't touch the body! How many times do we have to tell you that it is basic police procedure not to-" - In this bit, my sympathies were definitely with Thompson. You shouldn't leave unnecessary fingerprints on evidence.
"The victim's not left-handed, see." - I thought this was a good piece of deduction. However, I thought this was weakened because not many people are left handed in general, so surely a 'normal' right-handed police officer would have noticed that the key was in the 'wrong' hand. And, I must admit, the othe possible deduction here is that the victim had atypical watch-hand preferences.
"The coat underneath it is not as nice as the one he's wearing on top – in fact, it's raggedy, moth-eaten – and his belt is made of cheap cardboard." - I thought the imagery you evoked in taking Marlow (great name choice, by the way!) down to nothing by literally stripping him down was very strong. With Marlow's desperation, I can see how he was motivated to seize the chance of getting James' job.
"Yes, I think it's safe to say the police department will start hiring Warden Crow a lot more often now." - I'm not convinced that one successful case will be enough to overcome Crow's alcohol and cigarette addiction or six months of depressive apathy, but I suppose it's a start. I'd find this a stronger ending and more emotionally convincing if it played up the Crow/Thompson relationship more (maybe in a slashy way) as it looks like Thompson is now a lot more impressed with Crow.
I enjoyed the murder mystery and the solution - I thought the process of deduction was suitably ingenious and involved a nice twist. Overall, this was an interesting story about a detective on a case.