I do not think I've ever read a mystery more depressing than Silent Echo. P. D. James writes some depressing mysteries but she's a load of laughs compared to J. R. Rain.
I guess if your main protagonist has terminal AIDS related cancer and six months to live, you're not going to be writing a comedy. But P. I. Jim Booker is really depressing. He crapped out in the game of life. He blames himself for his brother's death, the love of his life is married to his best friend and now she's missing. So his last goal in life is to solve the mystery of her disappearance...and perhaps the mystery of his brother's death.
Silent Echo, despite the downbeat vibes, is a good novel. Booker never sinks into the abyss of whiny and depressing and he is surrounded by caring concerned friends. The strength of this novel included a realistic depiction of Booker's dilemma(s) and a nice gumshoe atmosphere throughout. The main weakness is a mystery that is too easy to predict, mainly due to the lack of reasonable suspects. But there's no doubt that Rains is an accomplished writer in the modern crime noir style a la Huston and Lansdale.
I guess I like my Rain a little softer, as in the case of the warm and witty Elvis Has Not Left the Building. Yet this is a good novel and does give me a view of a slightly harder and more contemplative Rain.
Three and a half stars.