Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Approximate word count: 70,000-75,000 words
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The author is Chair of the English department at Southwest Minnesota State University and the author of five novels including Yellow Medicine.
After being busted off the police force in Mississippi, Deputy Billy Lafitte is given a second chance by his ex-wife’s brother who is sheriff of Yellow Medicine County in Minnesota. He gets on the wrong side of some terrorists operating crack houses on the outskirts of town.
I don’t read a lot of Crime Noir, but I did enjoy the lean writing style—lots of sentence fragments and smart-assed asides. However, I struggled with the protagonist. He’s an easy guy to dislike, especially his attitude toward women who he sees as sex objects open to manipulation by a person in authority (a policeman--him). I guess there may be cops as bent as this one, but as a character, I found it hard to root for him. And that’s a big problem because the book is told in first person from Billy’s perspective.
The action scenes were well portrayed, although with too much gory detail for my taste. Billy and his wannabe girlfriend, Drew, were well-drawn characters. But the terrorist cell and the way they behaved and particularly how they interacted with Billy, was unconvincing. A lot of time was spent inside Billy’s head, and on occasions, the author’s politics showed through a little too obviously.
As I said, I’m no expert on the genre, and much of what I didn’t enjoy can be attributed to that. Crime Noir is a specific niche, and I think this is probably a good example that would appeal to lovers of hardboiled stories.
There were a few formatting problems on my Kindle version, though not enough to cause a distraction.
Rating: *** Three stars