Wrong Light

by Matt Coyle
Oceanview, December 2018, $26.95

Matt Coyle’s Wrong Light takes us into the world of late-night radio with Naomi Hendrix, a voluptuous-voiced San Diego radio host who encourages her listeners to open up about their lives while maintaining secrecy about her own. That is, until she begins to receive fan mail from a man calling himself Pluto, who is more creepy than admiring. The station bigwigs hire PI Rick Cahill, who recognizes deceit when he sees—or hears—it, and he knows something’s up with Naomi. She’s been shrugging off Pluto’s eerie letters, fearing that PI Cahill’s protection might wind up exposing her felonious past (she’d done time), thus ending her career as a late-night radio host on the verge of her program going national. When Cahill finally gets her to open up, she admits she was a onetime member of a Traveler family that preyed upon the gullible. Naomi’s particular gift was a supposed pipeline to the Other Side, access to which she charged her marks big money to talk to their dearly departed. Although the radio host’s demand of continued secrecy makes protecting her doubly difficult, Cahill is determined to shadow her, and does, until the Russian Mafia intervenes. It seems that the PI owes the mob a favor, and while taking care of that, Naomi disappears. Wrong Light is interesting until the wrong people start dying, and then it becomes a slog. It is further damaged by a badly-thought-out reveal, which not only leaves certain matters unresolved, but utilizes a plot device considered clichéd five decades ago. As much as I wanted to like this book, I came away disappointed.

Betty Webb
Teri Duerr
December 2018