Tune Up: The Secrets of Mylin – Book I
Tune Up by Joe Klingler is a fascinating multiple-perspective thriller following a host of characters including Klingler’s Detectives Qigiq and Dreeson, a photographer who specializes in “unmodeled” photography, a family who runs an orchestra of prostitutes, and the first chair violist of said orchestra who goes by the stage name of Mylin. We are presented with interweaving perspectives as the detectives are given a supposed traffic accident and a missing persons case to work, while the photographer finds himself suddenly presented with the subject of his stealth photography.
One of the most interesting things about the book is that about half of the book is from a closed third perspective, hovering over the shoulders of detectives and criminals alike, but when we reach chapters from the point of view of the photographer, the novel abruptly switches to first person. It was jarring at first, but once I had made it into the swing of the novel, it provided a refreshing change of pace and perspective on the story.
The plot is fast-paced and engaging, and it was a struggle to put the book down. The characters are well-developed and fully dimensional, and while the choice of a Chinese family as the masterminds/victims of the human trafficking ring toed a line of cliché and stereotype, Klingler managed to avoid the pitfalls and create unique and believable characters with agency and independence to undermine the connotations that the racial choice brought to the novel. I was worried about some of his choices in regard to the portrayal of the Chinese characters, but each borderline stereotypical trait was balanced nicely by backstory and reasoning as to why the character chose to emphasize that trait and how they were using the Western perspective and fetishization of Asian culture to better accomplish their goals. I was also pleased to see a broad range of characters from racial backgrounds not often represented in literature, such as native Alaskan.
Above and beyond the characters and plot, Klingler is also a master at description, which leads to highly realistic settings, an expanded knowledge of motorcycles, and a wonderfully trippy climax to the action. However, it is also probably one of the few problems with the story as the author falls prey to Tolkien-like levels of detail around the actions of the characters. While this may be enjoyable for some readers, I felt it occasionally slowed the pace of the action and might have benefited from some trimming down.
Overall, it is a tidy novel, which winds its multiple perspectives into a seamless whole. For fans of crime thrillers, it will be a highly enjoyable read.