Quick Review: TRIGGER by David Swinson (Mulholland)

SwinsonD-FM3-TriggerUSThe third novel in the excellent Frank Marr crime series

Frank Marr was a good cop, until his burgeoning addictions to alcohol and cocaine forced him into retirement from the D.C. Metro police. Now, he’s barely eking out a living as a private investigator for a defense attorney — also Frank’s ex-girlfriend.

Ostracized by his family after a botched case that led to the death of his baby cousin, Jeffrey, Frank was on a collision course with rock bottom. Now clean and clinging hard to sobriety, Frank passes the time — and tests himself — by robbing the houses of local dealers, taking their cash and flushing their drugs down the toilet. When an old friend from his police days needs Frank’s help to prove he didn’t shoot an unarmed civilian, Frank is drawn back into the world of dirty cops and suspicious drug busts, running in the same circles that enabled his addiction those years ago.

Never one to play by the rules, Frank recruits a young man he nearly executed years before. Together — a good man trying not to go bad and a bad man trying to do good — detective and criminal charge headfirst into the D.C. drug wars. Neither may make it out.

Frank Marr is a private investigator who is trying to do good, while simultaneously battling his various (multiple) demons. The first two novels in David Swinson’s series — The Second Girl and Crime Song — were fantastic, and I blitzed through them back-to-back. Gripping, sharply written and populated with excellent characters, they are among the best novels I’ve read in years. As a result, Trigger was one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’m happy to report that it is another excellent crime novel, and did not disappoint. Continue reading

Interview K.R. RICHARDSON

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is K.R. Richardson?

A cynical, slightly obnoxious ex-journalist with a taste for good bourbon or rye, big lazy dogs, noir mysteries, quirky science fiction, and ridiculous mechanical objects. And cheese.

Your new novel, Blood Orbit, will be published by Pyr in May. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Gritty cop/crime noir, wearing science fiction clothes in the tradition of Blade Runner and Altered Carbon. It’s the first in the Gattis File series — the publisher and I are discussing Gattis File Book 2 right now. Continue reading

Quick Review: DEPTH by Lev A.C. Rosen (Titan/Regan Arts)

RosenLAC-DepthUSMurder and conspiracy in flooded future New York City

Depth combines hardboiled mystery and dystopian science fiction in a future where the rising ocean levels have left New York twenty-one stories under water and cut off from the rest of the United States. But the city survives, and Simone Pierce is one of its best private investigators. Her latest case, running surveillance on a potentially unfaithful husband, was supposed to be easy. Then her target is murdered, and the search for his killer points Simone towards a secret from the past that can’t possibly be real—but that won’t stop the city’s most powerful men and women from trying to acquire it for themselves, with Simone caught in the middle.

Without a doubt, my favourite thing about the novel is the setting — a partially submerged New York City, cut off from the (now-fundamentalist-Christian) mainland. The first 21 storeys are underwater, only tower blocks and sky-scrapers inhabitable — each stitched together by bridges of varying quality and safety. Rosen doesn’t give us too much about the city, but it is unquestionably a character in itself. Every scene offers a new description and development, letting readers know how the city has changed over the decades since the oceans rose, and the methods used by New Yorkers to adapt. The fundamentalist swing of the mainland was amusing to read, even though it’s mainly just offered in passing as a contrast to New York.

The story itself was pretty straight-forward, and I appreciated the fact that Rosen wove it into this world. It wasn’t the best PI/detective story I’ve ever read, and I’m sad to say I wasn’t fully gripped throughout — I ended up far more interested in visualizing the city, rather than following the case. There were moments of excellence (in particular, a handful of turns of phrase that were fantastic).

This was a pretty interesting novel and a quick read. While a bit slow, and not as gripping as I had hoped, it’s still a good introduction to this post-apocalyptic New York City. I would certainly read more novels in this setting.

*

Depth is published in the UK by Titan Books and in the US by Regan Arts.

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Mini-Review: THE MESSENGER by Mark Charan Newton (Tor)

NewtonMC-MessengerGreat introduction to a new character

As an Officer of the Sun Chamber, Lucan Drakenfeld must uphold the two-hundred-year-old laws of the Vispasian Royal Union, whatever the cost.

While stationed in the ancient city of Venyn, a metropolis notorious for its lawless nature, Drakenfeld receives a series of mysterious letters, written in blood, that warn of an imminent assassination attempt on the life of the city’s young Prince Bassim.

Supported by his fiery colleague Leana, Drakenfeld’s investigation leads him down the city’s corridors of power. But nothing is as it seems. Who is behind the conspiracy that threatens the young prince, and will the duo be able to unearth the perpetrator before the prince’s time is up?

Long-time readers of the blog will know that I’m a big fan of Newton’s first series, Legends of the Red Sun. This 9,000~ word novella features the main character of the author’s new series, Lucan Drakenfeld, and is set before the first novel Drakenfeld. It’s a very good short story, and certainly served to whet my appetite for the full-length novels (which I’ve been inexplicable slow about getting around to). There’s a mystery, a rebel group, the possibility of an inside agent, some brutal killing, and the potential for a spot of regicide. Everything that makes a great fantasy crime story. We get to know the main two characters, too, who are two of the more interesting protagonists I’ve read in a while.

A great prequel, and a great way to quickly and cheaply try out Newton’s writing and his new series. Absolutely recommended.