Title: Nearer Home
Author: Joy Castro
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Rating: 4 out of 5
New Orleans reporter Nola Cespedes is still recovering emotionally from the events of Hell or High Water, but she’s back on the job and searching for her next story. On her daily morning run, she finds a woman’s body; even worse, she knows the victim: her former journalism professor. As Nola begins digging into her professor’s life to try and discover why someone would murder her, she stumbles upon two stories that could have explosive consequences.
Nearer Home is a crime novel that is absolutely dripping with atmosphere. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, it’s a portrait of a city that is just beginning to recover. Castro shows the city’s resilience and determination in this novel, but there’s a shadier current underneath. The city has always had a darker side, and that’s front and center in this series of novels.
This is the second Nola Cespedes novel (after Hell or High Water), though there’s no need to read these books in order. The plotlines stand alone, and readers will be able to enjoy getting to know Nola through this book without reading the first. Nola’s an amazingly written character, full of spunk and wit, but also tragically broken. She’s been through a lot of difficulties in her past, and her inability to commit to a relationship is a symptom of that. It’s interesting to see how she changes in Nearer Home. Unlike in the first novel, Nola’s very aware of her issues, though she isn’t sure she can overcome them.
The story of Nearer Home has many different elements. Nola’s investigation is the main plotline, and it’s definitely intriguing. But there’s also Nola’s personal issues, as well as her relationship with her “little sister,” whose life Nola is trying to improve. These different aspects of the novel come together to make a deep, well-rounded read. Though it’s a crime novel on the surface, there’s much more underneath.
The Nola Cespedes novels have been a really unexpected surprise; they are well-written and engaging, with a flawed main character who, despite the fact she makes questionable decisions, is easy to sympathize with. Readers will race through this novel as they search for the answers behind the many questions Nearer Home proposes, and it will only leave them eagerly anticipating the next installment.
Other books by Joy Castro: