Review: The Little Death by P.J. Parrish

The Little Death
P.J. Parrish
Pocket Books, February 2010
ISBN 9781416525899
Mass Market

Louis Kincaid finds himself working a case in the heart of a place he isn’t comfortable: Palm Beach, Florida.  There are so many obvious reasons for him to feel out of place: skin color, finances, attitude, etc.  He’s not happy about being there in the first place, and the longer he’s there, the unhappier about it he gets.  Throw into this mix the problem he’s
having coming to grips with his long-distance relationship, and it’s just not fun times for Louis.

He’s there with Mel Landeta, doing him a favor, trying to get Mel’s friend out of a murder conviction.  This could be touchy, as the victim lived with the suspect and the crime was particularly brutal.  It doesn’t help that the suspect and the victim had a big fight not all that long before the body was found, sans head.  The suspect is a “walker”, a man who accompanies wealthy women to functions.  So he’s got allies, but not a lot of blatant power.

The Little Death is, in many ways, about power.  The power that money brings, the power that sex gives, the power that some people have and other people want.  It’s also about love: love given, love missing, love lost, love betrayed.  P.J. Parrish brings so many layers to this book, so much subtlety.

The Little Death is Parrish’s tenth book, and the growth in writing since book one is a real pleasure for the reader.  Kincaid is still a man not sure quite where he belongs, although he is getting better at not letting that unease stand in his way.  He’s always known the world is nothing as easy as black and white; he’s learning that sometimes it’s the nuances that are more important than the dividing lines.  While it is certainly not necessary to read the books in order, readers who treasure character growth as well as writing skill will probably want to start at the beginning.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, March 2010.