Review: Sins as Scarlet by Nicolas Obregon


Release date: December 18, 2018

Publisher: Minotaur

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Meredith Nichol was found dead on the lonely train tracks behind Skid Row in Los Angeles. A transgender woman, the police suspect a hate crime. No clues have been left and they have little to go on beyond prejudice and speculation. She’s quickly figured for just another lost soul and a cold case with little hope of ever thawing.

After leaving behind his life in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and the terrible events which nearly killed him, Inspector Kosuke Iwata has started a new life working as a private investigator in LA. He spends his days spying on unfaithful spouses and searching for missing persons, and his nights with an unavailable woman.

But this uneasy peace is shattered when a voice from his past demands he find Meredith’s killer.

Reluctantly throwing himself back in to the dangerous existence he only just escaped, Iwata discovers a world of corruption, exploitation and murder – and a river of sin flowing through LA’s underbelly, Mexico’s borderlands, and deep within his own past.


It’s not very often that I find myself moved when I’m reading Crime Fiction, it’s usually a rare occurrence but a totally appreciated one when it does happen and Obregon managed to touch a part of my soul with his painfully beautiful writing and stunning imagery. It was a little like reading high brow literary fiction without the pretentiousness and with way more grit.

The real appeal of this one for me was two fold, the main character, Iwata was just the kind of damaged and broken leading man that always gets under my skin and then there was the setting. When an author can make me truly feel the location they’re describing and make it a living, breathing entity I am blown away and Obregon did a phenomenal job creating a strong sense of place. It takes place mainly in LA, and this isn’t the glittering mecca we’ve all seen on TV, this is the dark underbelly, the very depths of humanity.

One last thing that made this a standout was that you can clearly see this is written by an author who is not only extremely talented, but he has a social conscience. This examines the marginalized community of transgender individuals and it was explored in a sensitive yet honest and raw manner. It was also diverse with Iwata being Japanese and I learned some interesting things about the culture and their traditions that was really cool. This whole book was just really cool, it mixed a modern vibe with current social issues with an old school noir style that is entirely the authors own.

Sins as Scarlet in three words: Intoxicating, Smooth and Sophisticated.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the author and the publisher for my review copy.

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