DAY ONE is author Bill Cameron's second crime fiction novel to feature retired Portland detective Skin Kadash. Skin is a complicated, slightly broken homicide cop (is there any other kind?) whose retirement is not exactly graceful, as he spends his time pushing coffee, chasing a woman half his age, and blatantly ignoring his past. Unsurprisingly this past comes roaring back when a deadly shootout and kidnapping take place right across the street from his dilapidated Mt. Tabor home. Before long Skin is begrudgingly dragged into a case that involves a seriously fucked-up rural Klamath County family, a lovelorn skateboarder, and... what else? Oh, a killer with a divot in the side of his head.
When Day One works, it works like a charm. Certain chapters crackle with momentum and electricity, and Cameron's ability to paint visuals—especially the seedier streets of Portland and the dark underbelly of its neighborhoods—is laudable. However, the book does tend to leap off the rails by jumping back and forth in time from chapter to chapter, and by story's end, one can't help but wonder if all the chronological gymnastics were worth the trouble. And while many of the characters are heartily developed, others are less than sharply drawn, leading to confusion and further slowing of the momentum Cameron is trying so hard to build.
That being said, Day One is like a bipolar horse that's been released from its stall—wild one minute, napping the next—but ultimately, still worth the ride.