American By Day by Derek B. Miller

Review published on April 12, 2018.

Derek B. Miller follows up his highly successful debut with a touch of class, in this brilliant thriller with a nod to Scandi Noir, American By Day. The prose flows like water and is as smooth as silk, this could easily be placed amongst literary thrillers as it crosses both genres easily and at no time do you feel like you are being preached at.

While we must work out whodunnit, we are given a psychological study of small town American policing, boarding on the paramilitary, while asking how a white police officer can shoot a child who is playing with his friends and then not be brought up on a charge. Drilling down into how united the United States really is when there are clear dividing lines between rich and poor, black and white. This is a book reflecting on society, while there is also a story about two foreigners out of their depth.

Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård is taking a well-deserved holiday, especially after recent events, when she had to shoot an offender. She needs to rest and get herself back together and the best place for that is her father’s farm in Northern Norway. When she gets there, she finds her father is worried about her older brother, Markus, who has gone missing. He wants Sigrid to find him and has bought a flight ticket to America to find him.

When Sigrid eventually arrives at Markus’ house he is long gone and she needs to find the local sheriff, which she does. Sheriff Irving Wylie could have come straight from central casting, a god fearing, cowboy boot wearing sheriff to serve Jefferson County, New York. Both are suspicious of each other and their motives in Marcus’ case. To Americans he is a wanted murderer, who should be shot on sight, to Sigrid he is her brother and there may be more to this than meets the eye.

Eventually a strange partnership between Irv and Sigrid seems to work the case, while respecting each other. Irv who is trying to control the forces that wish to crack a nut with a sledgehammer while recognising this will not actually solve anything.

This is a brilliant book as you look at the American psyche during the 2008 election and the dividing lines in American life. With touches of comedy relieving the tension and aimed at the right characters just simply adds to the story.

This is simply a crime story you will want everyone to read and enjoy, while opening their minds, and sometimes not charging in like a bull in a china shop really is the best option.

Paul Diggett 5/5

American By Day by Derek B. Miller
Doubleday 9780857525369 hbk Apr 2018

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