Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: 'A Choice of Nightmares' by Lynn Kostoff

A Choice of NightmaresRobert Staples is the classic noir protagonist of sorts, one who is forced into a situation he isn't acclimatised for. The hack actor turned glorified courier turned pawn in a drug cartels takeover plans is often in the deep end struggling to keep his head above water. His loyalties tested and plans for returning to the silver screen come under scrutiny as he does what he can to appease his boss - old and new while dodging bullets, muscle men, and a killer dame.
 
Lynn Kostoff writes some awe inspiring scenes, particularly where Denice, Rob's love interest is concerned. Her every appearance is preceded by a poetic-like description which creates an almost mythical aura as witnessed through Rob's lustful eyes.
 
Certain aspects of 'A Choice of Nightmares' are reminiscent of the great noir authors in Goodis and Thompson - with dialogue such as:
 
"Problems and opportunities...There's not much difference between them if you look closely enough."
 
and great throwaway lines:
 
"He'd known many days when he could hear mortality in the whine of a mosquito and each passing second drew blood."
 
The overall theme and feel of 'A Choice of Nightmares' oozes desperation and a sense of longing which envelopes the reader in a grey cloud of despair parallel to that of the damaged drug riddled main character, Rob.
 
Despite the authors obvious talent at capturing the noir essence, at times I felt 'A Choice of Nightmares' suffered from an identity crisis often switching between the traditional noir and drug running cartel. Beginning with Rob's unfortunate demise from movie star to ignorant delivery man and following through with a multi-layered cross continent drug ring, Kostoff lost me at times (both to the complement and detriment of the novel). I can't help but think if Kostoff focused on either the drug ring OR Robert and his femme fatale, that 'A Choice of Nightmares' would've been up there with the greats.

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