Just as I thought there wasn’t an original take left on the detective novel, along comes Stephen Jay Schwartz and BEAT.
BOULEVARD is relentless and unflinching, a shocking thriller that dares you to keep reading. Schwartz has created one of the most complex and tortured protagonists I’ve encountered in a long time. A powerful debut.
Boulevard is terrific. Fast-paced and convincingly told. The streets of L.A. have never been meaner or seamier. Stephen Jay Schwartz’s clear vision and knowing heart make him a gifted writer to watch.
Schwartz is skillful in rendering charcoal-sketch views of the darker corners of Sunset Boulevard, and he dazzles the reader with intermittent flashes of a poetic sensibility. . . .a book full of merit, by an author loaded with talent.
Shining. Evocative. Penetrating.
Tightly written and wildly original, you’ll be thinking about this story long after you close the covers. Sex-addict Detective Hayden Glass is an unforgettable anti-hero you’ll love and hate at the same time. Stephen Jay Schwartz is going to give Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch a run for his money. BOULEVARD is just plain excellent.
A lurid nightmare tour through dark streets and dark minds. Stephen Jay Schwartz writes with the fevered intensity of early James Ellroy.
BOULEVARD is one of the most riveting debuts I have ever read. Stephen Schwartz has written a story that will enthrall you, haunt you, disturb you, and keep you thinking long after you’ve finished reading it. Once you begin this book you won’t be able to look away.
Dark and gritty, Schwartz’s dicey debut is seriously twisted.
Boulevard is a mesmerizing read; Schwartz has drawn a swift, brutal, and compelling portrait of a nightmare underworld of Los Angeles and a protagonist tormented by his own sexual addiction as well as by a real human evil. Boulevard is one of the most compelling books on addiction I’ve ever read, wrapped up in a gripping thriller.
This may be Stephen Jay Schwartz’s first book, but you’d never know it from the writing. Or the plotting. Or the characters. BOULEVARD is all adrenaline, a spiraling dance of doomed souls in the best tradition of LA noir. The streets here are so well-drawn you can almost see the heat shimmering off the asphalt and smell the exhaust as hookers, cops, and addicts of various kinds do their perpetual dance. Hayden Glass is a cop with a secret, a secret that not only endangers his search for a vicious serial predator, but also brings Glass to the jolting realization that he is somehow part of the predator’s scenario. From the first scene to the dead-stop conclusion, Schwartz never lets up, and his story lifts a corner of the social fabric and peers beneath it to shine light on a part of the urban world that most of us, if we are lucky, will never be part of.
Schwartz isn’t the run-of-the-mill crime writer here. Boulevard reads methodically from the point of view of someone who knows how to maneuver effectively through the world of street prostitution and not get sucked in to the point of disrepair.
Boulevard is raw, twisted, and so hard-boiled it simmers from beginning to end.
Plot twists and turns plus an unusual denouement make Schwartz an author to watch. Mystery fans who enjoy reading about the mean streets of L.A. (a la Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker) will devour this.
Schwartz hasn’t missed a trick in this gripping first novel. He begins with a knowing guided tour of LA’s boulevards, i.e., hooker strolls, as seen by the cop/customer, and he skillfully develops Hayden’s flawed character, showing him to be decent, haunted, and sometimes loathsome. Most important, he artfully builds tension and suspense into horror and finishes with a stunning Grand Guignol climax. Expect much more from this talented writer.
Like James Ellroy, Hollywood film developer Schwartz can make the reader squirm, as shown in his debut, a disturbing thriller whose hero is addicted to sex‚ Schwartz does a fine job of blurring the lines between sexuality and violence, the criminal world and the police world.
Just set aside a couple days of your life, right now, and buy this book. This truly is one you will not be able to stop reading. The deeply flawed, complex main character grabs your attention from the beginning and never lets go. It’s an extremely dark and twisted ride, fearless in the willingness to face the shadow. By the ending, the reader is left breathless and exhausted, and unable to forget about the time shared on the Boulevard. Amazing debut.
I come from the Old School of Los Angeles crime fiction (think Ross MacDonald) so I tend to view newer writers seeking to make a name in that niche with a jaundiced eye. That bias of mine made it all the more of a pleasure to discover this debut novel by a great new voice in the field. What makes “Boulevard” so compelling is not just the expertly plotted narrative but the profoundly conflicted protagonist at its center. Throwaway terms like “gritty” and “hardboiled” will certainly be used to describe this book but they fail to convey the psychological depth found within. Hopefully the beginning of a prodigious series, this certainly merits close attention to future work from Schwartz.