In the first segment of The Twenty Year Death by Ariel S. Winter, called “Malniveau Prison” starts off with the discovery of a corpse that’s found in a gutter in France in 1931. The Chief Inspector, Pelleter is led to Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosencrantz – the dead man’s daughter – and her hot-tempered American husband, who is a successful writer. The second segment of the novel, “Falling Star” plays off in Los Angeles, 1941. Los Angeles private investigator, Dennis Foster is hired to keep an eye on the paranoid starlet called Chloe Rose. Chloe Rose, who is actually Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosencrantz, moved to Los Angeles to become a star and so that her husband can write screenplays, but the death of her father still haunts her and it seems that someone’s out to get her… The final part of the trilogy novel is called “Police at the Funeral“, which is narrated by Shem Rosencrantz – Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosencrantz’s husband. He travels to Calvert, Maryland in 1951 for the reading of his first wife’s will. By now, Clotilde is in a mental facility, Shem has squandered everything in support of his drinking habits. But when a fight leads to death, Shem hits rock bottom and the mysteries that surround Clotilde and Shem, are slowly revealed.
Three books in one, The Twenty Year Death stretches over three decades, three narrators and three styles, which in turn all blends into one riveting novel that is reminiscent of 1940’s and 1950’s crime noir novels. This Hard Case Crime book is exceptional in so many ways as debut author, Ariel S. Winter keeps true to the genre and marks his territory with exceptional characters, a great plot and a mystery that is sure to give the reader a lot of pleasure with his magnificent writing. Already making name for himself amongst some of the great authors of our time (Stephen King, David Morell and James Frey) with The Twenty Year Death, it’s safe to say that this is not merely another one-hit-wonder’s book…
What will keep the readers truly in suspense is how these mysteries unfold, whilst keeping the reader wondering “Why?” long after you’ve finished the book. Not all mysteries are resolved though, which keeps true to the genre in many ways, but as far as crime noir goes, The Twenty Year Death is definitely worthy of the title – Our Generation’s The Great Gatsby – which is a title I don’t hand out lightly. Mandatory for collectors of Hard Case Crime books, crime lovers and noir fanatics should definitely get their hands on it, but that’s not the only people who would find delight in The Twenty Year Death though. Those dames who always enjoy watching old-school Hollywood films would find Clotilde (Chloe Rose) a compelling character as well and will definitely want to read about her tale.
With the characters so endearing and the writing so very good (word use, editing, formatting… they’re all of the best quality), it’s a good purchase and definitely something that you’d want to read again and again. What’s more is that this reviewer is hoping they make a movie out of the book too, it’s about time that a new pulp film comes out in a grindhouse form and The Twenty Year Death would make a brilliant subject.