I have to admit that I loved The Killing; since it feels like Metacritic and I were the only ones watching it, I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s much of a secret, but I unabashedly recommended it to anyone looking for something good and dark and gritty to really sink their teeth into.
The Killing – Uncommon Denominator is actually a prequel to the first AMC season, before Linden and Holder were even partners. They both feature prominently in the story, and both of their stories tiptoe around each other without ever really converging. Holder, deep under the cover that we learn more about as the show progresses, is cozying up to what is probably another meth ring. Trying to smoke out the leader means he needs a talker, so it’s pretty bad luck when his snitch accidentally blows himself and his meth kitchen into of the sky. Linden, who arrives at the same scene to look into her own accidental murder case, spends the next four days chasing ghosts to find out why a genius astrophysicist is found with a bullet in his brain in a meth mouth trailer park on the same day Holder’s cooker sets his face on fire. Enter Detective John Goddard, who has an equally genius geneticist with an eerily similar exit wound lying face down in a shipyard; add a few tweakers, a potentially psychotic drug lord, and a missing kid, and we’ve got ourselves a hell of a four day mystery.
The thing about this book is that it’s a good quick and dirty mystery. It’s got some tension, some suspense, and for any fan of the show, more time with the characters you already invested in and appreciate. The downfall is that, as a prequel, you’re really missing out on what really made the show so fantastic, and that was the partnership. Linden on her own is brittle, and Holder is only ever an inch out of his own demon’s grasp, but man, together they were dynamic! But in this case the characters don’t get to play off of each other, and in fact they barely even cross paths. You’ll be surprised how much you miss that banter when it’s not there, and that goes double for Holder. I found him rakish and charming on the show, but put all his “little man” and “ ladykiller” quips in print and he sounds like a hollow joke.
I want to say it again: this book is good. It’s a fun read. I can’t stress that enough. You like mysteries? You like suspense? You like this book. You like The Killing? You might like this book. It gets kind of a disservice by being a prequel story, but only because it may have stood stronger by just being it’s own thing. I give The Killing – Uncommon Denominator a 6.5/10.
The Killing – Uncommon Denominator by Karen Dionne, was released on June 24, 2014. It is available in Mass Market paperback and E-book.