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Book Review: ‘The Twenty-Year Death’ By Ariel S. Winter

The Twenty Year Death
Ariel S. Winter’s debut novel, “The Twenty Year Death,” features three separate crime novels that create a single saga of violence and tragedy intruding on the lives of a couple. Described as a 3-in-1 noir, each novel is set in a different decade, penned in a different style and told from a different perspective, starting out in 1931 with a body found in a gutter in France, leading to 1941 Hollywood with a callous slaying of a young starlet, and ending in 1951 Maryland with a desperate man’s last chance for personal and professional redemption.

“The Twenty Year Death” is a breath of fresh air in a literary world seemingly obsessed with zombies, vampires and everything supernatural. While reading, I traveled back in time to my youth when I’d sit with my father and listen to old broadcasts of CBS Radio’s drama “Suspense.” The Golden Age of radio was spread across 600+ pages for my delight as violence and tragedy hit again and again over a span of 20 years.

Each novel is told in the voice of a literary great — Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson, big names in detective fiction and pulp novels — as Winter taps into their styles to pay homage to their legacies without parody. His book features a unique framework that is a celebration of the history of crime fiction presented as a thrilling story.

“The Twenty Year Death” is a chronological saga in terms of action but the nitty gritty behind the main characters is dished out sporadically, and masterfully, throughout the three novels, so the image of the main character’s is forever evolving.

Maybe you’re not versed in the literary greatness of Simenon, Chandler and Thompson. That’s fine because, on its own, this novel is an intricate web of suspense and drama. No spoilers here because the best part of reading “The Twenty Year Death” is seeing how it all unfolds.

Ariel S. Winter’s “The Twenty Year Death” will be released by Titan Books on Aug. 7, 2012 and is available on Amazon. In addition to years as a bookseller for The Corner Bookstore in New York City and Borders in Baltimore, Winter is also the author of the blog “We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie” and has a children’s picture book, “One of a Kind (Aladdin),” coming out this year. — Kate Vendetta

You can follow Kate Vendetta on Twitter at @katevendetta.