Summary and book reviews of City of the Sun by David Levien

City of the Sun

By David Levien

City of the Sun
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Feb 2008,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2009,
    432 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

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Book Summary

Riveting suspense in the tradition of Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, City of the Sun introduces retired detective Frank Behr—an imposing, charismatic former cop who agrees to take the case of a boy who’s been missing for over a year.

Jamie Gabriel gets on his bike before dawn to deliver newspapers in his suburban Indianapolis neighborhood. He is twelve years old. Somewhere en route, as the October sky lightens, he vanishes without a trace.

Fourteen months later, Paul and Carol Gabriel are on the verge of abandoning all hope. Crushed by frustrating dead ends and exhausted by a police force that cannot (or will not) find their son, the Gabriels finally find a ray of hope: the name of an elusive private investigator who may represent their last chance.

Frank Behr is an enigmatic mountain of a man, a former cop who wants to help—but knows better than to give the Gabriels any hope of a happy ending. He has worked this kind of case too often. But Paul’s plea stirs up old personal demons that Behr can no longer ignore. Going against everything he fears, Behr enters into an uneasy partnership with Paul on a quest for the truth that is, in turn, dangerous … and haunting.

Richly textured and crackling with suspense on every page, City of the Sun weaves a moody narrative that hinges on the bond between a damaged detective and a lost father. From the antiseptic comforts of suburban Indianapolis to the city’s seamy underworld, David Levien introduces a private investigator as complex, idiosyncratic, and sympathetic as any in modern crime fiction. Levien is a gifted storyteller who will keep readers guessing right up until the final, explosive scene.

ONE

JAMIE GABRIEL WAKES at 5:44, as the clock radio's volume bursts from the silence. He rolls and hits the sleep bar, clipping off the words to an annoying pop song by some boy-band graduate who wears the same clothes and does the same moves as his backup dancers. The worst. Kids at school say they like him. Some do; the rest are just following along. Jamie listens to Green Day and Linkin Park. It's three-quarters dark outside. He clicks off the alarm and puts his feet on the floor. Waking up is easy.

In the master bedroom sleep Mom and Dad. Carol and Paul. The carpet is wall-to-wall, light blue. New. The liver-colored stuff that came with the house when they bought it is gone. The blue goes better with the oak bedroom set, Mom says.

It was a good move for the Gabriels, to the split ranch–style on Richards Avenue, Wayne Township. Trees line most all of the blocks here. The houses have yards.

Jamie walks past his school photo, which hangs in the hall ...

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Paul and Frank's search takes them far from the suburbs of Midwest America to a frightening and bizarre underground world. The reader is given no clues as to whether Jamie's abductors will be found, nor are we given any hope that Jamie has survived. Their search is an emotional journey as well as a physical one and this too gives the novel more depth. The emotional journey is perhaps what causes people to read a book of this nature. If we read to understand an experience we haven't had (and in this case hope to never have) then the author has achieved his purpose. As for characters we'd like to spend more time with, it's safe to assume Levien plans more outings with former cop Frank Behr, and I for one would welcome another journey with him.   (Reviewed by Vy Armour).

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Media Reviews
Entertainment Weekly - Jennifer Reese

As Behr roars out of Indy in his burgundy Toronado, all of the novel's hard-won credibility goes flying out the window. B

USA Today - Carol Memmott

This is a nerve-jangling novel that places average people in extraordinary situations in which, maybe for the first time, they assume the role of hero and master of their fate.

Kirkus Reviews

Despite some pivotal plot twists that are more emotionally wrenching than plausible, the novel is a remarkably assured exercise in grabbing you by the throat and shaking you until the very end.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Screenwriter Levien's debut crackles with raw intensity as it hurtles from a placid Indianapolis suburb to a dingy Mexican outpost.

Library Journal - Stacy Alesi

Levien captures the hopelessness of the situation well, the pacing is relentless, and the story gripping and altogether disturbing. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.

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Beyond the Book

The AMBER Alert Program

The AMBER Alert Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child.

Named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas in 1996, it is also an acronym for "America's Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response".

In 2001, only two children were recovered due to AMBER Alert. In 2006, 69 children were recovered because of an AMBER Alert. To date, the program has helped ...

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