Diana Gould’s Coldwater grabs you from the start, its flawed protagonist demanding your condemnation before sneaking past your defenses to lay claim to sympathy instead. The story stands up to all those gritty LA noir mysteries out there, and Brett Tanager can certainly take her place among those seedy male protagonists who drink too much, feel overwhelmed with remorse for the people they’ve hurt, and generally save the day, solve mysteries, and put bad guys behind bars. By the end of the first two unsettling chapters I’m wondering, why does it feel wrong to read of a womans overwhelmed with guilt and remorse. But suddenly I’m pulling for Brett, wishing there were an answer because she’s really not so bad, just wounded and sad. This novel proves flawed women are just as interesting to read about as men, and make just as convincing and powerful protagonists.
Brett Tanager’s not seeking redemption, but when her ex-step-daughter needs help she grits her teeth and sets out to do what she can. She’s not seeking absolution—not even seeking life. But sobriety sneaks up on her for all the temptations to fall. Even as she feels herself betrayed yet again, the reader longs for her to prove true to herself.
TV and movie mogul setting seems very real, as do seafronts, dumpster divers, seedy apartments, and AA meetings. The plot’s fast, exciting, and pleasingly complex, with a nice tension drawn between Brett’s writing for TV and the life that overtakes her. The characters are well-rounded and multi-dimensional. And the whole is convincingly dark and seedy, enthrallingly determined, haunting, provocative and real, LA Noir for the thinking woman and highly recommended.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of this novel before it came out, and I’m just sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to reviewing it.