Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 15-20,000 words
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Former professional musician and poker player, Mike Dennis now makes his home in Key West, Florida. He has two novels, The Take and Setup on Front Street, with a third, The Ghosts of Havana, in the works.
A collection of three short stories, all in the noir style Dennis specializes in.
Fully Loaded: Used car saleswoman Sherry Lamar is feeling the economic crunch of the mid-80s and bored with life. A stranger changes that.
The Devil Drives A Big Mercedes: A minor childhood drama leads a seven-year-old boy towards a life of depravity.
Block: Curing writers block takes a bizarre turn for a famous crime fiction novelist.
When it comes to noir, I like Mike Dennis’ style. His novel The Take was my first exposure to his work. This short collection is the reprise. The Take had a storyline that fit what I think most people would expect from noir. The first of the three stories in this book, Fully Loaded, is also a typical noir story, although it kept me guessing where it was going and is an excellent example of the genre.
I want to say Dennis stretches the genre in the other two stories, but that isn’t really true. The Devil Drives A Big Mercedes has the characteristics associated with the genre, yet the plot still seemed unique or somehow fresh to me. Maybe that is a factor of what I have or haven’t read in the past.
Block also fits the definitions I’ve seen of noir, although it uses a twist or two and a touch of genre mixing to get there. I’ve found that my reaction is either hot or cold to music and books that are self-referential. If they have a theme on the joys or trials of being a musician or a writer, I’ll either hate it, feeling it is too pretentious or has nothing I can relate to, or love it, often because it is a subject the creator understood well. Block falls solidly in the loved it category, as does the full collection.
This genre is rarely suited for those not old enough to deal with adult themes. This general caution applies to this specific book, as well.
No significant issues
Rating: **** Four stars