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

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Quick Review: THE HAUNTING OF TRAM CAR 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

ClarkPD-HauntingOfTramCar015A second story in Clark’s fascinating historical fantasy Cairo

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.

I’m a newcomer to P. Djèlí Clark’s work, and I must say he is fast becoming one of my favourite new authors. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is a novella set in the same world as the author’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo short story. Both are mysteries, with protagonists tasked with investigating supernatural goings-on in an alternate-history Cairo — one in which djinn, gods and spirits (among others) exist and changed the course of history. I really enjoyed this, and think a lot of others will too. Continue reading

Quick Review: VIGILANCE by Robert Jackson Bennett (Tor.com)

BennettRJ-VigilanceA superb parable of an all-too-believable future American dystopia…

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces “Vigilance,” a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a “game environment,” and the survivors get a cash prize.

The TV audience is not the only one that’s watching though, and McDean soon finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera.

In Vigilance, Robert Jackson Bennett has written a frightening parable of a future, rapidly-declining America that has surrendered itself to gun violence. The author has managed to pack in a lot of commentary into this powerful novella. I very much enjoyed reading this, despite how disturbing it was. Continue reading