Will Dean’s crime novel First Born revolves around the murder of one of two identical twins. The novel begins with Molly preparing to leave the UK to fly to New York. She is to join her parents who are already in New York on holiday to visit Molly’s twin, Katie. Katie was attending an American university on a generous sponsorship/scholarship depending on who you talk to. The holiday, however, turned into something else with the news that Katie has been murdered. Molly, a highly neurotic character, packs her bags, leaves London and flies, with great trepidation to New York.
Molly and Katie, may have been “identical,” but they were polar opposites in temperament: molly is risk-aversive and, yes, paranoid whereas Katie embraced life with zest, took chances and accepted change. Molly knows very little about Katie’s life in New York and she proceeds (with self-created monkey fist at the ready) to do her own investigation.
There’s no shortage of suspects: Scott, the good-looking boyfriend who isn’t so grief stricken to cancel his regular rowing practice and then there’s Shawn, the creepy son of the Katie’s landlady. And what about that slimy professor Groot, and Katie’s best friend Violet Roseberry who was in a “Nuthouse in the Catskills.” Molly even sniffs that her father is hiding something.
There was a lot about this novel that seemed off to me. So on one level, there’s bizarre stuff going on: Molly’s parents have to move from their decent hotel to a stinky run down vomit-fest of a hostel. Molly, an extremely annoying character, btw, is running around on the loose in New York, armed, doing her own investigation. Speaking of investigation: the names of the detectives are Martinez and Ramirez and then there’s PI Bogart de Luca….To this reader the names seemed … well… derivative or else there’s something weird going on here with the whole story. …
This seemed like a fairly standard who dunnit-it in terms of development until the half way point, but then the book turned into something else. There’s a unreliable narrator that’s clear and acceptable and then one that isn’t. For me, the plot became completely implausible.