A Long Way Down
Ryan DeMarco #3
By: Randall Silvis
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: 06/04/2019
My Rating: 5 Stars ++ Book Giveaway Contest Author Q&A Interview Just when you think you've reached the bottom... Ryan DeMarco would rather not go home. Not now, maybe not ever. But when his estranged wife attempts suicide, he has no choice but to return to western Pennsylvania, and all the memories that wait for him there. Unfortunately, it's not only ghosts from the past waiting to greet DeMarco upon his return. An old high school classmate has risen through the ranks to become a county sheriff, and he is desperate for help investigating a series of murders that might tie into a cold case from his and DeMarco's school days.
DeMarco and his new love, Jayme, agree to join the team working on the case. But it's not easy for DeMarco to be walking the streets of his troubled past, and the deeper he and Jayme dig into the disturbing murders the less likely it is that either one of them will escape the devastation.
Ryan DeMarco Mystery Series:
Acclaimed bestselling author, Randall Silvis returns following Walking the Bones (2018) with his award-winning Ryan DeMarco mystery series in this third installment of the complex but compassionate character (and one you sympathize with) —A LONG WAY DOWN.
“Silvis once again demonstrates he is a "MASTER" of his craft— combining both intelligent literary and mystery suspense in this "must read" provocative series. Leaving readers eagerly awaiting the next in the Ryan DeMarco mystery series.”
From the last novel, we catch up with former sergeant of the Pennsylvania State Police, Ryan DeMarco (now, age fifty). He has spent time in the mountains of Kentucky alone struggling with his dreams and the grief of his son as well as taking time away from the job due to the intensity of the last case.
The new woman in his life, Trooper Jayme Matson (love her) has taken time away from her position to accompany and travel with DeMarco in their RV to figure out their relationship, allow Ryan to heal, and the next step.
However, Ryan gets called back to his hometown of Youngstown, PA to deal with his estranged wife, Laraine who has attempted suicide and in the hospital. She has been coping with her grief over the loss of their son in destructive ways. Ryan, being the compassionate person, he is—flies back to be by her side with the support of Jayme.
DeMarco is haunted by this tragedy since his mother had done the exact same thing a quarter century earlier.
Other than his mother, Laraine was the first woman he had ever loved. They met as children in a trailer park. He wondered about love. It could take many forms. It could be freeing or imprisoning.
From the love of his mother, his estranged wife, his baby son, Ryan, Jr, and now his love for Jayme.
He felt tied to each of them. He had not been with his mom on her final night. Much of the heaviness had lifted since the dreams in the Kentucky mountains. He sees his son as a twelve-year-old in his dreams.
DeMaro had not been great at relationships, but things were good with Jayme, despite some of his bad decisions. However, women remained a mystery to him.
“He understood the criminal mind well, and had a knack for predicting its simple turns and convolutions. But the mind of a woman in love—no law of physics could account for the complexities of such a mind.”
However, without a woman in his life, he had no balance, no center. The periods between these three women remained dark in his memory. There was anger, resentment, and the times he was closed off, allowing no one in when he went to the dark places.
While he is in his hometown, (a place he has stayed away from due to the many demons from his troubled past) – his old friend and football buddy from high school, Ben Brinker is now the county Sheriff and needs his help with a case.
There were two cold cases, one thirty years old and one eighty, both tied somehow to the new case. There were lots of similarities. He calls Jayme, and they both decide to pack up the RV and immerse themselves in this case.
Ryan was not so sure he wanted to plunge back into violence, murder, and serial killers, especially in his hometown, bringing up too many painful memories. Jayme encourages him, and she wants to see where Ryan came from to learn more about his past.
She also is talking about having a baby with Ryan, but she is walking on eggshells with that subject due to Ryan still grieving over his lost son.
With some interesting, colorful secondary characters, and local authorities, there is a lot of fun and humor with cat-and-mouse between Jayme, Ryan, and the locals. From the differences in sociopath and psychopath, (quite impressive) they all use their own tactics to delve the mind of this serial killer. The killer lies in wait for the right moment, strikes, and dismembers the body. Is there a copycat or is it the same killer from years ago. Why now?
Jayme is witty, intelligent, and she adores Ryan. She takes no crap from anyone and puts Ryan in his place when needed as well as everyone around her. She is the perfect partner for Ryan. She was instrumental in the Kentucky case, and Ryan is proud of her.
He is willing to remain in the background. They both will be working as independent private investigators attached to the office as consultants. Of course, some of the local egos must remain in check, and the jealousies continue to arise.
As they spend nights pouring through all the old files, they are some baffling differences, regarding why the killer treated the girl differently.
In between working on the case, Ryan starts slowly opening up a little about his troubled past – his mother and father. Jayme still must keep her own desires to herself about a baby and patiently wait for the right time.
“Grief is like gravity; it grounds us in reality, but too much of it can crush a person flat.”
"The only human sense and the only human emotion that grief cannot blunt is grief itself."
They also become friends with Ben and his wife, Vee (which I loved). They add a lot to the story. Also, Ryan receives boxes of notebooks of Tom’s books (author from previous books) from his mother-in-law Rosemary. She wants him to sift through and put together a book.
However, as the days go on trying to solve this murder, Ryan and Jayme pull out these handwritten notes, the powerful words speak to them on different levels.
The lyrical, poetic prose is breathtaking as the words come at the exact moment to help guide, comfort, and soothe their weary souls.
Ryan’s emotions are all over the board, from being back in his hometown and haunted by his estranged wife, his mother’s suicide, his baby son’s death, the loss of Tom his devoted friend, his PTSD, his insomnia, the mood swings, his guilt, his relationship with Jayme, and he is overwhelmed with the violence of these cases.
Often Jayme senses he is pulled back into the lurking darkness. Can she help him out of this downward spiral?
The case takes a turn which puts Ryan and Jayme in danger the suspense builds, as they hang on to their lives by a thread.
As a boy, Ryan found solace in the woods. The angry, frightened, and troubled little boy. As an adult, he feels the same. He despises the ugliness and hatred in the world and why people are so cruel to each other. He wanted to escape. However, through Jayme and his friend’s comforting words, he begins to see life on a deeper level and a more meaningful enriched life.
Words cannot adequately describe this novel and Silvis’s beautiful writing. In A LONG WAY DOWN, he infuses lush, poetic, and evocative descriptions of Thomas Huston, (Tom) literature professor, and bestselling author character we met in previous books (friend of Ryan).
As a reader, these were awe-inspiring moments, as Ryan (in particular) and Jayme, both starving for these perfect words of wisdom for guidance. The quotes came at the exact moment in their complicated lives when they needed them the most, to make sense of their current situation.
There are many quotes I want to include here. I enjoyed the piece about nature. I bookmarked many pages and quotes. However, my review will be even longer (than it is already). I have included some of those in my upcoming interview with the author. You almost forget you are reading a crime murder mystery, due to being caught up in the lyrical prose. (a good thing).
This is a rare skill, when writing crime or suspense with tension, to allow the reader to unravel the character’s emotions and their thoughts at the precise moment. I think this goes back to the author’s skillful craft of combining literary and suspense.
This is where Silvis shines. It is not so much about the action taking place, or what is coming next, it is the moment you stop and hear, smell, sense what the character is experiencing. To really enjoy literary fiction, you must fall in love with the words and the characters. Yes, there is plenty of action, and suspense to drive this thriller; however, Silvis has a unique way of reaching down into the soul of his haunted characters who are compassionate and flawed, seeking redemption, and wants to see the good in this world in spite of the darkness. Isn’t this real life and what we all want?
There is darkness, suspense, action, misery, death, violence. Despair and sorrow. But there is good, beauty, joy, hope, compassion, and light.
As referenced in the novel, when DeMarco recalls a conversation with Thomas Huston, to suggest to him that investigating a crime was a lot like writing a novel. Huston had explained that Chandler chose not to write typical mysteries, those in which the only thing that matters is the resolution, the solution to the mystery, but instead to write mysteries in which every scene matters, because every scene adds another layer to the main character.
Not about what happens to the world as the plot unfolds, but what happens inside the character and the reader. Chandler’s goal, said Huston, was to “to exceed the limits of a formula without destroying it.”
Silvis manages and executes, flawlessly. Not only does he "strive" per Booklist review. He "excels!".
Why are people drawn to shows like This is Us and The Village? Because, it is raw, real, and flawed people dealing with the ugliness of life, yet it is uplifting and inspiring. A perfect balance. It is relatable. In our current world of unrest, we all are seeking a higher and spiritual meaning.
I loved the up close and personal relationship between Jayme and Ryan, and I am looking forward to the next in this series. I have a feeling we will see more of Jayme, Ryan, Laraine (fingers crossed)!
A series not to be missed!
Please join me on June 4 for an extensive interview with the award-winning author, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and prolific essayist. For readers/writers and exclusive behind the scene look at his characters and his writing, plus learn what is coming next! Do not miss this edition. I am truly honored to speak with one of my favorite authors and one of my most fascinating interviews this year.
A special thank you to Poisoned Pen Press (Michael), Sourcebooks, and Netgalley for an early reading copy. I also purchased the audiobook narrated by Graham Winton (excellent).
“Come dance with me, the darkness says when the night breeze scrapes down every street, and the invisible people who can find no friend in sleep, no friend in light, cling like lovers to their blackened doorways and fill their souls with the smoke of night." — from “3a.m.” Thomas Huston
#ALongWayDown Book Giveaway Contest
Author Q&A Interview
for The Ryan DeMarco Mystery Series "Silvis is at it again, striving for a blend of crime story and literature, mutilated bodies and lapidary prose." —Booklist for A Long Way Down "...deeply satisfying....this solid procedural offers heart-pounding moments of suspense. Silvis smoothly blends moments of exquisite beauty into a sea of darker emotion to create a moving story heavy with the theme of the 'past is never past.'" — Publishers Weekly for Walking the Bones "a stellar work…. The author’s insightful portrayal of small-town secrets and loyalties plunges readers deep into a Southern mystery that will keep them wondering right up to the end.” —IndiePicksMag.com for Walking the Bones
HAMMETT PRIZE NOMINEE for Two Days Gone "Beneath the momentum of the investigation lies a pervasive sadness that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page." — Kirkus Reviews "...impressive novel...an intriguing thriller." — Booklist "...[a] skillfully written thriller." — Publishers Weekly for Two Days Gone "...a suspenseful, literary thriller that will resonate with readers long after the book is finished. A terrific choice for Dennis Lehane fans." — Library Journal, Starred Review "A gripping new literary thriller....The fact that this book will be marketed as genre fiction is misleading; it's more than that. It's literature posing as a mystery, like works from Attica Locke or Louise Penny. Two Days Gone will be one of the best reading investments you make this year. " —- BookPage TOP PICK IN MYSTERY January 2017, and Top 10 Notable Book for its January 2017 reading list "...this novel [will] linger in readers' minds well after Two Days Gone." — Shelf Awareness "Two Days Gone is a quiet, intense, suspenseful mystery about a man who has lost everything. Rich with descriptions and atmosphere....Two Days Gone is relentless in its suspense, and the final twists in the novel are sure to not disappoint." —Foreword Review "[a] chilly suspense novel." —The New York Times Sunday Book Review "Randall Silvis' Two Days Gone is a smart, twisting, vividly written thriller anchored by two deeply flawed yet fascinating protagonists. Yes, the novel provides cat-and-mouse suspense as a horrific murder in a college town is investigated, but it's also a deeply rewarding story about friendship, family, fame, and the complicated relationship between readers and writers. Anyone who wants to dismiss thrillers as mere genre fluff should read Two Days Gone." — David Bell, author of Since She Went Away "An absolute gem of literary suspense... told in a smooth, assured, and often haunting voice, Two Days Gone is a terrific read." ―Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Wish Me Dead
About the Author
"A MASTER STORYTELLER" —The New York Times Book Review
Randall Silvis is the internationally acclaimed author of over a dozen novels, one story collection, and one book of narrative nonfiction. Also a prize-winning playwright, a
produced screenwriter, and a prolific essayist, he has been published and produced in
virtually every field and genre of creative writing. His numerous essays, articles, poems and short stories have appeared in the Discovery Channel magazines, The Writer, Prism International, Short Story International, Manoa, and numerous other online and print magazines. His work has been translated into 10 languages. Read More
Silvis’s many literary awards include two writing fellowships from the National
Endowment for the Arts, the prestigious Drue Heinz Literature Prize, a Fulbright Senior Scholar Research Award, six fellowships for his fiction, drama, and screenwriting from the Pennsylvania Council On the Arts, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree awarded for “distinguished literary achievement.”