Cover Image: Line of Sight

Line of Sight

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Member Reviews

This was one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It brought to mind some of my favorite mystery authors, like Lehane and Connelly.

The book is gritty, complex, and thought provoking. Several times throughout I had to pause and really think about some of the issues raised and my own views of the issues.

The main character, Russell Avery, was flawed yet likeable, and I found myself rooting for him and wanting him to be ok as the book drew to a close. The story follows him as he investigates the death of a young man that is written off as a drug crime, but is actually something much deeper. I won’t go further than that, because the ins and outs of this story are better read without spoilers.

I will say that the end was a surprise to me, but that wasn’t what made the book a 5 Star read. What made this book get all the Stars was the writing and the complexity of the issues, characters and story. I enjoy a book with complex and flawed characters who have many sides.

Overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys gritty crime books like the authors referred to above. It was an engaging read, and thoroughly satisfied my desire for a good mystery.

Thank you to Netgalley and Polis books for the opportunity to review and advanced copy.
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“Line of Sight” took me a bit to get in to but once I got past the slow start I couldn’t put it down.  I enjoyed the characters and the writing style.
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James Queally has written a taut and engrossing page turner of a debut read with Line of Sight. Well worth the read!
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Whilst I enjoyed this Line of Sight it was a hard book to get into.
Russell Avery is an ex journalist in Newark who is now a P.I. doing a lot of work for police officers, helping them to get out of sticky situations, particularly with Internal Affairs.
The pace picks up as he is asked to investigate the death of a young black man ,Kevin Mathis, whose death is being treated as a drugs / gang death.
It is evident that the writer was a journalist as the details seem authentic.
The book shows multiple points of view quite cleverly, if a little confusing, at times.
He is torn between Key, a local activist, Kevin’s father and his police friends/self preservation and potential civil unrest.
I gave this book 4 stars as I liked the storyline, writing style and characters.
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Lots of times I avoid debut novels, not knowing anything about the author. This may be a mistake on my part as I’m finding that any times the writer has been saving up lots of good ideas and puts his/her best foot forward to make a strong first impression. I hope this author has saved some more ideas as good as those included in this excellent crime dram as I eagerly await the next story.
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The cop drama is something I am very familiar with. For an author to choose this as his debut would indicate that he or she feels there is something different to say, something to be added. From the beginning, I liked author James Queally's writing. As the story developed it necessarily slowed at points as investigations are not always exciting, and certain facts need to be established. The novel ultimately went with one ultra bad guy, and shifting to him was not always smooth. The premise that because a defense attorney used drugs all of his cases would have to be retried is fundamental to this story, but I don't find it holds that much weight. It seems that a defendant would have to show that said drug use specifically prejudiced his case. Since most drug cases end up with plea deals, wouldn't the defendant have to show that his deal was worse because of the lawyer's drug use? Having that fundamental disagreement did impede my enjoyment of the story, but in total I liked it a lot.
Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC.
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Line of Sight is the debut novel of award-winning crime reporter James Queally. The description of this book by the publisher spoke of questionable use of force, the shooting of an unarmed young black kid, and of race riots. 

When I read and combined this, one name popped in front of my mind: David Simon. And with that name came memories of The Wire, Homicide, The Corner... This, unfairly, set my expectations pretty high. 

Line of Sight is a fiction. It tells us the story of Russell Avery, who used to cover the crime beat for one of Newark’s newspapers before being thrown out of the building for disagreeing with his editor. He then used his police contacts to expedite a P.I license and, as a result, works mainly as a fixer for officers in the major crimes unit who might run into trouble with internal affairs. 

That is, until the day Keyonna Jackson, an activist, asks him to take on the case of a client whose son, a small time dealer, has been shot in a cemetery. The father is convinced cops did it, as a few days prior, the victim had filmed the shooting of an unarmed black suspect by an officer. 

Russell Avery enters a race against time in order to solve the murder before the family and Jackson decide to seek justice another way, by releasing the cell phone video to the media and setting the city aflame. And he uses all contacts at his disposal, from cops, journalists, to gang members and bosses in order to try and unravel the chain of events which led to the death of Kevin Mathis. 

Reading this book, I quickly realized it had nothing to do with The Wire. Not that there isn’t social commentary, but the strength of the story resides mainly in Avery’s investigation. Line of Sight is foremost a crime thriller. A thriller difficult to put down (even if the pacing gets a bit slow around the middle of the book, before picking up again).

Nevertheless, once I finished reading it, I still had David Simon in mind and wondered why. I found out my lingering feeling had more to do with Simon’s account of his year trailing Baltimore’s homicide detectives (Homicide : A year in the Killing Streets) than with his works of fiction. 

Everything in this novel, from the description of events, of cops and brass, of journalists, corner kids, gangbangers, the town and its streets must have been fed by James Queally’s years on the crime beat. And through the eyes of Russell Avery, we probably get to witness some of what the author experienced during his career, including his feelings, uncertainties and doubts. 

This is a book immersing the reader in an engaging investigation, led by a three dimensional protagonist, set on an authentic background only someone who has spent years in the field could have brought to such a story. 

So this isn’t The Wire after all, but I still highly recommend reading it. 

Thanks to Polis Books and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for this unbiased review.
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Queally’s Line of Sight is a terrific, fast-paced, Hard-edged, gritty crime thriller that is well written and engrossing.  Queally has been a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times and he makes his protagonist, Russell Avery, a laid-off crime reporter, now making a living as a private eye who figures out how to quickly and efficiently end police misconduct cases.  

The setting for Line of Sight, however, is not Los Angeles, but trendy Newark, New Jersey.  Avery is local guy, still with a few connections from his reporter days.  You get the real sense that Avery is not about to leave town when things go bad.  He’s loyal to it and is somehow still trapped and emeshed in the tragedy of Newark.  

The story touches on controversial use-of-force shootings, but opens up a wider nuanced lens, showing all points of view.  This includes the officers in a no-win situation in a late night confrontation where a suspect reaches for his waistband to the so-called community activists who want to use every officer-involved shooting as a point to make them media stars regardless of the fallout in the community and regardless of the often difficult facts.

Avery may have left reporting, albeit involuntarily, but his heart is still in being a muckracking reporter, ferreting out the truth.  And, ultimately, it’s a story about corruption and power and truth.  

Not sure if this novel was planned as a one-off or the start of a series, but this reader would like to see more.
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