Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pick Up A Pulp [18]: THE PASSIONATE PAGAN by Carter Brown

When Danny Boyd turns down a gun for hire job, he sees opportunity in being said targets body guard; shield the intended vic rather than puncture him with bullets. Should be an easy score, after all, he knows where the contract is coming from and the timeline for the execution. What Boyd didn't bank on was arriving at the targets hotel only to find him laying in a pool of blood and a couple of bruisers all too ready to share their penchant for violence.

The Passionate Pagan once again pits the PI with the 'profile' against a dame with a body to kill for - along with a motive to murder. Only this time, it's a rare occasion of Boyd taking on a case without a client - yet throwing his every inch of skill coupled with dumb luck to catch the killer - and it's not who you think.   

One of the things I like about the Carter brown pulp mysteries is their tendency to stray from the formulaic. Sure each book is loaded with cheap and cheesy pulp prose and questionable plotting but they are each different and it's that variety which keeps me coming back for more. 

In The Passionate Pagan, Boyd is not only hired for a hit (which he obviously declines) but is involved in a kidnapping of sorts (along with Laka Tong, the dame who wanted him to murder an associate), outright murder, and is responsible for taking down a drug smuggling ring. A lot happens yet the pieces to the puzzle don't quite fit as nicely as I would've hoped. There's a fair amount of convenience and easy-outs in the book which, with a little tweaking here and there could've been resolved, unfortunately it's those elements which really hamper the reading experience. 

2/5 stars.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review: MARLBOROUGH MAN by Alan Carter

Publisher Fremantle Press
Length 297 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review
The Marlborough Man is a tale of two distinct stories linked by events surrounding protagonist Nick Chester, a once undercover cop from England now residing in New Zealand under a form of witness protection. Nick’s the senior ranking officer in the two officer Havelock police force. He’s got a wife and child, and lives on a farm surrounded by picturesque scenery. The Havelock crime element is minimal, generally consisting of bar scuffles, graffiti and the odd theft. That all changes when Nick’s past comes back to haunt him, bringing along with it a dark tide of unrelated criminal activity to his small town posting.

First thing I must mention about this book is that it is exceptionally well written both from plotting and narrative to the well-defined characters - it all works. Marlborough Man feels like a meaty read; there’s a lot to take in as Nick investigates a spate of child murders linked to Havelock’s elite while dealing with a personal vendetta omnipresent yet on the peripheral to what is eventually touted as the Pied Piper case. Author Alan Carter manages to navigate through the darker crime elements of the book by providing momentary light relief with a spattering of humor here and there – be it from Nick’s wife, Nick himself, a couple of Russian assassins, or two unexpected campers on Nicks’ property forming a nice balance to book.

I read Marlborough Man slower than most other books, savoring each word to make sure I took in the atmosphere as the New Zealand backdrop is just as important as the characters themselves. Forming an appreciation of the place-setting goes a long way to understanding Nick and the cast of characters (perhaps not those in England from Nick’s past).

Marlborough Man is a more than a whodunit, it brings with it a baggage bursting with danger and a cast that are instantly relatable. I highly recommend this book – 5 / 5 stars. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: LOLA by Melissa Scrivner Love

Publisher Crown
Length 336 pages
Format hardcover
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy borrowed from the library

My Review
Lola is more than a novel about the inner workings of a small LA based gang, the Crenshaw Six. It’s a story about hardship, determination and ambition. It bucks the trend of male orientated gang leaders by instilling a woman at the head of the table, albeit subliminally at first. Lola is brutal but loaded with heart which comes from taking a different perspective on what it takes to be a leader in the violent streets of LA.

Not for the faint of heart, this gang-centric novel is brimming with violence at every turn. Starting with a deal to embed themselves in the drag trade, the Crenshaw Six are immediately immersed in a world of murder and kidnapping with their leader, the fearless and ambitious Lola front and center. Ending with further bloodshed, Lola maintains a murderous pace throughout bringing with it a fully fleshed plot with realistic and intriguing characters with the promise for more. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

Publisher Random House
Length 10hrs 26mins
Format audiobook
Published 2011 (originally published 1985)
Series standalone
My Copy borrowed from the library

My Review
Set in a repressive dystopian society, The Handmaid’s Tale provides glimpses into a not so distant future where women serve little purpose other than to breed and be at the beck and call of their Commander. Living inside a gated and guarded community as the world outside succumbs to ongoing war, the inhabitants live a mundane life. There is no fraternising, no freedom, no choice. For every action there is swift instruction and purpose. It’s amid this backdrop, author Margaret Atwood introduces Offred, once a library employee, mother, and wife now serving her masters in a dangerous world. Offred is the narrator of this story and provides a telling account of her experiences in Gilead as well as providing interesting bite size chunks of ‘life before’.

I listened to the audio version narrated by Joanna David who, I don’t think was the right choice, despite putting in a very solid performance. I just pictured Offred as younger than what Joanna’s voice portrayed. More a ‘me’ issue than that of the book.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a good book, one that focuses more on establishing an atmosphere than detailed plot. Whilst it’s slow moving, the pacing allows the reader time to get to know Offred (at least what she wants us to know) and feel like we’re part of her world.

I think this is a book that will require a re-read to fully appreciate it. 3 / 5 stars. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: THE KILLING BAY by Chris Ould

Publisher Titan
Length 462 pages
Format paperback
Published 2017
Series Faroes #2
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review
The Faroes is a collection of islands set between Iceland and Norway, the weather is cold and the days short. The islands depend on traditional whale hunts as a means of food and it's embedded in the culture, spanning back hundreds of years. In The Killing Bay, author Chris Ould uses this traditional grind to stage the second Faroes crime novel. Shortly after the grind ends, a young female activist opposed to the whale slaughter is found murdered. Local law enforcement, led by detective Hjalti Hentze with assistance from visiting English detective Jan Reyna dig deep into the events during and after the grind for clues to catch the killer. 

This is a classic whodunit with an ever changing list of prime suspects. Borrowing heavily from the formulaic popular police procedural, The Killing Bay sets itself apart by virtue of providing a unique atmosphere and side story that doesn't add to the murder investigation but does bring an added layer of depth to the characters; the earlier suicide of Reyna's mother on the islands some years back. Reyna's investigation tiptoes along the line of the murder but never fully crosses it, the plot device is a clever way to explore the outer reaches of the island contributing to the geography and making places read familiar when the two separate investigations cross paths location-wise.    

As a second book in a series The Killing Bay reads ok as a standalone. I hadn't read The Blood Strand beforehand but wish I did as there are a number of events from that book which have a direct impact on the characters and their behavior in the follow-up. That said, the author provides enough back-story to make it all work, however I will be reading The Blood Strand sooner rather than later. The series, as far as I was able to gleam has a community feel to it with each police officer playing an active role, making this reader wanting to know more about them. 

I love books that bring more to the story than a plot and characters and The Killing Bay offers that by using a unique place-setting and providing insight into a deeply rooted culture. I found the book thoroughly enjoyable. 

4 / 5. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: TWO DAYS GONE by Randall Silvis

Publisher Sourcebooks Landmark
Length 394 pages
Format paperback
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review
Popular author Thomas Huston is accused of brutally murdering his family one bloody night, fleeing the scene and leaving a trail of hurt and incomprehensible saddens in his wake. Sergeant Ryan DeMarco catches the case, and despite being conflicted (he and Huston are acquaintances) hunts Huston with a lone wolf ferocity akin to a Harry Bosch investigation.

What looks to be a straightforward game of cat and mouse evolves to anything but, as Huston's guilt turns questionable as the case unfolds. 

Two Days Gone is the first book to feature Ryan DeMarco, which was surprising as the book reads like a 'second of' in a series. There's a couple of reasons for this; firstly, DeMarco's estranged relationship with his wife, there's a lot of history there - we see her in back-story glimpses as a loving wife cut down by tragedy only to find comfort in the arms of strangers, and DeMarco's stalker like fascination with her, watching her ever conquest from afar. Secondly, there's a character introduced later in the novel in which a past discretion led them to having already met DeMarco, I had assumed there was an early story fleshing out this but there isn't. Then there's DeMarco's demoted position in the police force and playful banter with his superiors leading to a feeling of pre-existing stories having already established how we got to this point in DeMarco's colorful and complex life. 

So what does this mean for the reader? Well, it feels like you're dropped into the middle of things and left to piece together DeMarco's back-story through these little look-in's spattered throughout the book. This is OK, but with the back-story proving to be so interesting the plot of the murder investigation reads secondary. 

Despite the above mentioned, Two Days Gone is a very good read. The characters are well developed and the pacing is perfect. I particularly liked the use of short sharp chapters, providing bite sized pieces of crime fiction which really wet the appetite for more. Even though I thought I knew how the book would end I found myself eagerly reading to see if I was right - I wasn't, which made it all the more enjoyable. 

3.5 / 5.   

Friday, May 5, 2017

Pick of the Month [April 2017]

I read 13 books in April in what was another good reading month for me. For April I wanted to try something different and focused on my ever expanding tbr pile. I deliberately shied away from review books to delve deep into my shelves and read some books which had sat there unattended to for far too long. Of the tbr reads Red Country, the fantasy-western by Joe Abercrombie and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson were the picks of the bunch. I also snuck in a couple of rereads, The Devil by Ken Bruen - which I loved the second time after not liking it much when I first read it years ago, and This is Not a Game (TINAG) by Walter Jon Williams, loved it then, loved it now. I recently ordered Deep State, the follow-up to TINAG and can't wait to read it.  

Continuing the theme of selecting recently finished reads for my pick for month I went with Red Country by Joe Abercrombie. I simply could not put this book down. Despite weighing in at well over 400 pages in small print hardcover I devoured in a couple days. While billed as a fantasy novel there isn't a whole lot of fantastical elements which makes it more of a western/crime centered story more than anything else. I strongly recommend this one. 

Read my review of Red Country here

I'm also selecting Little Deaths by Emma Flint as a joint pick of the month for April. The audio edition was superb and the narrators added a little something extra to what was already a very good crime novel.  

Read my review of Little Deaths here

Other highlights, in no particular order:

  • The Turnaround by George Pelecanos - a multi-generational crime novel about the aftermath of a momentary lapse in judgement and its long term flow on effect for those involved. 
  • Thrawn by Timothy Zahn - a canonical take on the popular character from the defunct Star Wars Extended Universe. 
  • Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone - a complex and deep private detective novel set in Haiti. I've got the other two books in the series waiting to be read. Really liked this one. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Review: ALTERED CARBON by Richard K. Morgan

Publisher Tantor
Length 17hrs 14mins
Format audiobook
Published 2005 (first published 2002)
Series Takeshi Kovacs #1
My Copy borrowed from the library

My Review
I have mixed feelings about this book.  I loved the premise that in the distant future, a person's consciousness can be stored in a stack and downloaded into a new body (or sleeve as is commonly referred to in the book), effectively eliminating a 'true death', yet felt the plot suffered from too many deviations, twists, and turns that did little to add what was, an interesting murder investigation - on the surface at least.

There's no doubt this book has broad appeal blending sci-fi and hardboiled elements - it's what hooked me in but it's way too long and there are too many characters to really get a good grounding on who everyone is and what role they play in the murder investigation. Protagonist Takeshi Kovacs aside, I didn't connect with any of characters in the book, which is a problem when the audio version spans some 17hrs and change.  

Speaking of the audio version, narrator Todd McLaren seemed like a good fit but I did find his dry monotone distracting at times, particularly when switching between description and dialogue. Some of the character voices were off as well which contributed to the confusion.

Overall I really struggled to get a handle on what was going on and I think this is largely attributed to the audio version, in paper it's much easier to go back and re-read a passage whereas in audio, doing the same is difficult. Richard K Morgan also had a tendency to let his character drift off and explore side plots which detracted from the progress of the murder investigation he'd been assigned.

2/5 stars - I will at some stage pick up a print copy to read as I do think the story is much better than a 2 star rating, but the audio edition really failed to hit the right notes with me. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Recent Reads Round-Up (Non-Crime)

Taking a break from crime fiction to read some speculative fiction is a great way to keep my genre of choice fresh. While not completely breaking away from crime, with each of the below having some criminal elements, it was nice to try out something different, including reading a book by an author I've not read before (despite having 4 books written by him in my tbr).

Book: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
Publisher Century
Length 427 pages
Format softcover
Published 2017
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it

My Review
I loved the original Thrawn trilogy in the now non-canonical Star Wars extended universe and was wrapped to read in late 2016 that a new Thrawn book was to be published this year set in the Disney Canon. Thrawn reads as an origin story of the alien super tactician Thrawn as he sneaks his way into the Empire steadily building a reputation as one of the most important strategic thinkers in the Empire, wining battle after battle and showing compassion and modesty along the way. Of course, his rising star burns some of the Empire's more ambitious members but Thrawn handles everything with a grace only his character could muster. 

There are battles and action scenes but these are secondary to Thrawn himself, author Timothy Zahn knows this character back to front and writes him in a way that is a joy to read, action aside, this book is all about firmly implanting Thrawn in the modern day Star Wars continuity. 

5/5 stars - You could easily read this book as part of the current canon or as a prelude to the Thrawn trilogy. 

Book: Harbinger Renegade: The Judgement of Solomon written by Rafer Roberts
Publisher Valiant
Length  144 pages
Format trade paperback
Published 2017
Series Harbinger Renegades Vol.1
My Copy I bought it

My Review
The return of Harbinger hit all the right notes; re-establishing the Renegades, maintaining the continuity of the earlier Harbinger run written by Joshua Dysart, introducing a new and menacing villain in Solomon, and making Psiots at the front and center of the Valiant Comics Universe. This return to form sees Solomon manipulate matters to re-establish the Renegades for his as yet undisclosed purposes. Like Harada before him, Solomon (a former protege of Harada from a long time ago) actively seeks out Psiots yet to be activated (not many humans with dormant super powers survive the activation process) in hopes of helping them reach their full potential. As a result he's got a motley crew of super powered teens at his back, somewhat unruly but willing to do his bidding. 

Rafer Roberts writes these character very well and teases just enough to keep the reader coming back for me. Collecting Harbinger Renegade #1-#4, The Judgment of Solomon feels meaty. There's a long going on issue to issue while seeding plot points for the next installment (due to start monthly in July). 

This book is about two things really - reuniting the Renegades and establishing a new bad guy on the block; it does both beautifully. 

A note on the art: Derick Robertson and Juan Jose Ryp are a perfect fit and really capture the emotion of the characters and provide a deeply well crafted visual landscape for Rafer Roberts's characters to traverse. 

5/5 stars - bring on 'Massacre' (the next collected volume).  

Book: Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
Publisher Orion
Length 451 pages
Format hardcover
Published 2012
Series standalone / First Law book #6
My Copy I bought it

My Review
Red Country is one part fantasy, one part western and all parts good storytelling. The book largely follows a group (or Fellowship) of characters as they traverse a dangerous country in search of missing children, killers and gold among other reasons. 

Each character is well defined with their own unique voice and accompanying back-story (or enough story to make them read 'real'). There are so many sub plots, had a lesser writer penned the book I could easily see this bloody quest going off track but Abercrombie is such a good writer that everything feels organic and true to the broader story arc. 

One thing that did surprise me was the humorous aspect to the book, characters such as Shy, Temple, and Cosca all had me laughing with their witty dialogue - a nice contrast to the richly violent world these characters inhabited. Additionally, Red Country is chock full of memorable quotes, much like the Shadows of the Apt fantasy series by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Abercrombie goes that extra mile to enhance an already good story. 

5/5 stars. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review: CASTAWAYS by Brian Keene

Publisher Audio Realms
Length 7hrs
Format audiobook
Published 2010
Series standalone
My Copy borrowed from the library

My Review
Castaways is about a group of reality TV contestants hidden away on a secluded and supposedly uninhabited island battling it out among themselves to be the sole survivor for the chance to take away a million dollars in prize money. Being a Brian Keene book things are bound to go wrong and before too long the contestants are battling for survival in the truest sense. Having to deal with a massive storm, a homicidal contestant and then inbred cannibals makes for one terrifying and goose bump-inducing  survival horror. 

The book is obviously formulaic, borrowing heavily from the themes popularized in the reality TV show Survivor and common horror elements.

Readers familiar with horror fiction author Jack Ketchum will draw some comparisons with his cannibalistic survival horror Off Season, however, this is more from the gory way in which the characters come to an end, and the shared survival horror aspect; each story has a desperate theme and Ketchum's characters are much better defined. The only compliant I had with Castaways way the character dialogue and number of contestants, it was hard to really care about any of them (1 or 2 aside that is). I think with a shallower character pool this book could've great. 

The audiobook was narrated by Maynard McKillen who did a good job at giving the characters their own voice and providing a real sense of urgency to the book, particularly in the later stages. 

3.5 / 5 stars.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: DARK REVELATIONS by Anthony E. Zuilker & Duane Swierczynski

Publisher Penguin
Length 340 pages
Format paperback
Published 2011
Series Level 26 #3
My Copy I bought it

My Review
With each book in the Level 26 series since Dark Origins (#1), the polish seems to wear off. Each subsequent installment feels more rushed and less plausible than it's predecessor. In Dark Revelations, series protagonist Steve Dark, famous for his uncanny ability to hunt down the worlds worst serial killers and bring them to justice or wipe them off the face of the earth somehow manages to piece together answers to each twisted puzzle seemingly out of thin air and has his new team (the cheesy-named Global Alliance) traversing the globe to thwart the killers evil plan. There's no depth to the storytelling with a mere glossing over of detail and little more than a passing thought given to character development. The book reads like it was made for a high octane crime episode of some sort rather than a novel.

I didn't watch all the cut scenes online but those I did, particularly the last one, added something a little extra to the story - which was much needed.     

Whilst I like to look for the positives in books I read, aside from a couple of interesting characters who read like cardboard cutouts with potential, there was little to keep me interested other than finding out Labyrinth's identity, which in the end, too, felt kinda cheesy.  

If you've read Dark Origins and Dark Prophecy chances are you're going to want to give this one a shot, having read it, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. 

Dark Revelations is an average read at best. 2/5 stars. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Why I Like To Reread

Despite having some 144 books sitting in my tbr shelves (number according to books I'm yet to read on Goodreads, I'm sure that number is actually higher, gulp) I like to go back to books I've previously read for many reasons;
  • to have that 'feel good read' feeling after reading a particularly dull book, or
  • in readiness for the next book in a series, or
  • to see if the book still has the same impact (or non-impact as it were) as it did in years gone by
Surprisingly some of my recent rereads have changed the way I feel about them, in two cases in particular - completely. Why is this? 

For one, I think generally enjoying a book comes from the point in time you're actually reading it. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is an excellent example of this; years ago I couldn't stomach the book and gave it a dnf, fast forward a couple years later to 2014 and I gave it 5 stars. The same can be said for The Devil, book 8 in the Jack Taylor series by Ken Bruen. I really disliked the direction this book took, moving away from the noir soaked PI themed story into the semi-supernatural when I first read it in 2011, yet when I read it again as part of rereading the entire series I actually liked the added element - go figure. 

Timing makes a big difference, be it the maturity of the reader, exposure to broader sub genres, or the willingness to embrace something different, there are a myriad of ways a book you hated came become loved and vice versa. Of course there are some books which will always be favs and those that just suck, even after going back in hopes of having them connect with you the second time round. 

Here are my 4 (out of the 48 books I've read so far) rereads of 2017 with more to come I'm sure: 

1st read: 2011, rating 2.5 stars // 2nd read: 2017, 4.5 stars

1st read: 2014, rating 5 stars // 2nd read: 2017, 4 stars

1st read: 2009, rating 2 stars // 2nd read: 2017, 2 stars

1st read: 2011, rating 5 stars // 2nd read: 2017, 5 stars

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pick Up A Pulp [17]: THE AMBER EFFECT by Richard S Prather

Book number 40 in the Shell Scott private eye series sees the happy go lucky PI gifted Miss Nude California, well, nude, on his doorstep begging for help. Once he collects himself, Shell gets to business asking the why's and what for's and he doesn't like what he hears.

Someone had tried to rape / murder the young women in her hotel room only to die suddenly after laying eyes on her naked body. The deceased, later identified as Buddy Brett, a local hoodlum had suspicious ties to a scientist being strong armed to patent new technology he neither discovered or played a part in developing. 

Shell Scott's case is at once cheesy and unnecessarily complicated by virtue of a scientific angle which neither pays off or adds depth to an already floundering plot. The story meanders from one intelligible interrogation to the next until a linkage between the frequently nude Miss Nude and the patented scientific technology is discovered. 

Largely let down by drab dialogue, The Amber Effect, however, was just plain boring. This is one of the few pulps I actually struggled to take away anything positive from. How this series got to 40 books is beyond me. 

I like reading pulps but there was just too much that didn't work for me to recommend reading further into Richard S. Prather's Shell Scott PI series. 

1/5 stars. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Recent Reads Roundup

Book: Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone
Publisher Penguin 
Length 560 pages
Format paperback
Published 2006
Series Max Mingus #1

My Copy I bought it

Mr Clarinet is a book that takes time to get going and even then, the story is very much a slow burn as the author focuses in detail on firmly establishing the place-setting and building an atmosphere as apposed to progressing a missing persons investigation. For the most part this tactic works with Haiti a character in itself. Nick Stone paints a picture of poverty and injustice that few authors would have the stomach to muster while still making it all feel relevant to the Max Mingus investigation into the kidnapping of Charlie Carver some 2 years prior. Max himself is a deep and complex character, this book picks up with Max leaving prison after serving a sentence for murder from an earlier case, it's interesting to see a PI at the end of his career working a last case rather than just staring out or being somewhere in the middle. Personally I liked this approach, it made Max more real and really helped to define his character. Mr Clarinet also has a touch of black magic and voodoo thrown in to keep things interesting. This is a great start to the series and I am looking forward to reading the next book, King of Swords (currently in my tbr pile) which takes the reader back in time to a case which left a long lasting impression on Max. 3.5 stars.  

Book: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos
Publisher Hachette Audio 
Length 5hrs 48mins
Format audiobook
Published 2008
Series standalone

My Copy borrowed from the library

The Turnaround isn't so much about crime, rather the lasting effects that crime has on the lives of those directly impacted by split decisions of provoked violence. Told in two distinctive time frames; the first centering on a racial encounter which led to the murder of a young man, the second centering on those same men as adults many years later with children of their own. The Turnaround is about redemption, remorse, and hurt. It's also about hope. This is a character driven story that does feel like a slow-burn at times but it's worth it. I listened to the abridged audio version narrated by Dion Graham who was a perfect match for these characters. 4/5 stars. 

Book: The Devil by Ken Bruen
Publisher Transworld 
Length 288 pages
Format paperback
Published 2010
Series  Jack Taylor #8
My Copy I bought it

'I look to you like a guy who does happy?' If a line could sum up Ken Bruen's masterful creation more accurately, I'd like to see it. Jack is back and not much has changed in his vice dependent life. Adding to his ever growing list of failures, rejections, beat downs and misrepresentations is a refused ticket to America. His fresh start thwart before it even begun. Naturally it's smooth sailing down hill with the breeze at his back straight to hell courtesy of the devil himself. While not necessarily investigating a crime this time round, Jack's latest does accumulate a high number of murders while providing further insight into Jack Taylor's inner circle of friends/enemies. For the first time, Bruen adds a hint of the supernatural to a Jack Taylor novel. The Devil is Jack Taylor doing as Jack Taylor does with something a little different - you'll either like it or lump it, I liked it a lot.

The Devil was a reread and interestingly enough I rated it significantly higher this time round time giving the book 4.5 stars whereas last time I thought it was middle of the road at 2.5 stars (back in 2011). 

Book: Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky
Publisher Hodder and Stoughton
Length 368 pages
Format softcover
Published 2011
Series Low Town #1
My Copy I bought it

I should have loved this book and I'm disappointed that it left a sour taste in my mouth. The Straight Razor Cure had all the ingredients catering towards my fiendish-like obsession with noir/darker crime fiction mixed with an equally dark fantasy setting; drug dealings, missing persons, criminal gangs, police corruption, sorcery, skulduggery, and an urban setting backdrop not for the fainthearted. So why didn't it work? I found ex lawman Warden two dimensional with his rise in the criminal underworld somewhat shallow and unfounded, while the back-story into the war felt out of place with the plot (there was linkage but it just didn't work for me). Perhaps my biggest compliant in the fact it read like a second or third book in a series rather than book 1; there was just too many ideas floating around here and too much story to cram in that I lost my way in some passages.  2/5 stars.