“Wrong Light” by Matt Coyle is part of The Rick Cahill series. Rick Cahill has a past, and the past never stays in the past. Coyle weaves details from previous books into the context of this story so new readers can get up to speed without endless pages of rehashing of old plots. Cahill’s first person narrative provides all the background anyone needs at the time it is needed.
Rick Cahill is a PI with a long and troubled history, but he seems to be adjusting to life and doing his job. He is trying to cope, trying to be competent, and attempting to accept responsibility for his past and his present. “My whole job depended on people acting differently in their secret lives than they did in public.”
“Wrong Light” opens with a voice that grabs readers as well as Cahill.
The radio station had received an unusual fan letter; someone was threatening “Naomi at Night.” The police did not see the letter as a threat, but something was not right, so the station hired Cahill to find out what was going on.
“Her voice, a low purr ripe with memories of long ago crushes, vibrated along the night’s spine. It pulled you close and whispered in your ear. You’re not alone. We’ll get through this. I won’t abandon you.” I’d listened to it on the radio during nighttime stakeouts. Nine til midnight. Five nights a week. 1350 Heart of San Diego on your AM dial. Naomi at Night. No last name. None needed. Her voice was all that mattered. And your imagination.”
Coyle pulls readers into Cahill’s world of uncertainty, doubt,and conflicting information. The narrative is casual, matter of fact, as if Cahill and the reader were sharing stories over dinner. He talks to readers and to himself; he shares his thoughts. Things do not always go well, and readers learn what he learns, question what he questions, and fear what he fears. Piece by piece information comes to light but that “light” brings more questions and few answers. Cahill seems to have enemies wherever he goes, and he uncovers only more lies and more secrets. “Maybe it was time to stop thinking. Was I wrong? Or maybe, I was wrong about everything.”
Coyle develops a sense of place with geographic details that astute readers can follow on Google maps. His shout out to football fans of “the Traitors— I mean, Chargers” immediately grounds the narrative in San Diego. The descriptions make such contributions that this would not be the same story if it were set somewhere else.
“The morning sun sparkled across the San Elijo Lagoon. The northern end of paradise. But paradise was just a pretty bow around the eighth largest city in the country that had its fair share of kooks and psychopaths.They just had golden suntans and blond hair.”
Coyle’s realism, logistics, action, and ordinary, tedious, and mundane things combine to make “Wrong Light” an incredibly normal and incredibly complicated book. I received a copy of “Wrong Light” from Matt Coyle, and Oceanview Publishing. The “wrong Light” shines on many characters in the book, but that “wrong light” falls mainly on Rick Cahill. Will there be a better light for Rick in the future? I hope so, and I cannot wait for the next book to find out.