Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review - A Fantastic Piece of Crime Noir

Being in non-marathon training mode and running less miles means more time reading. I have being doing book reviews all over the place, and I am now a guest reviewer at both Bookie-Monster.com and SilkScreenViews. A few of my favorites I am going to share here. I picked up this piece of crime fiction from netgalley and am so glad I did. Five tremendous stars burning so bright they melted my eyelids right off. 

First off, I should note that the title "The Bitch" is in reference to the main character's fear of being labeled a "Ha-Bitch-ual" criminal.  More on that later. Here's the premise:
The Book on Amazon

Ex-con Jake Bishop is several years past his second stint in prison and has completely reformed. He’s married, expecting a child, and preparing to open his own hair salon. But then an old cellmate re-enters his life begging for a favor: to help him with a burglary. Forced by his code of ethics to perform the crime, Jake’s once idyllic life quickly plunges into an abyss. Jake soon realizes that there is only one way out of this purgatory . . . and it may rupture his soul beyond repair.

Sure, you may  have seen this done before: Ex-con trying to fly straight and be a family man gets called back into the lifestyle. But this author does it so well that it never gets trite. Feels like true crime, with a language that is never forced.

The tension escalated beautifully. Unpredictable, yet always getting higher, like the tick, tick, ticking noise you hear the roller coaster make as you climb that first hill. You weren't sure what twist it was going to take, only that the author showed so much skill you would trust it would be somewhere interesting. You get to know the main character so well, that it's hard not to take him out of the book and back home with you.


As far as the title referring to the legal implications of being labeled a "Ha-Bitch-ual" criminal, I don't think the author would mind you thinking otherwise. In some ways, the main character lets his past make him his bitch, so to speak, by trying to live by the code of his old world and be happy in the new. Likewise, his wife, tries a 'cross-over' with similar results. There is moral ambiguity here and a value system that the main character has that you don't have to admire, but you will certainly feel it along the way. As the main character, Jake, goes rifling through what to do next, you want to scream out to him, "Dude, did you realize you just ((spoiler alert)) how are you going to shoot a move through this one?"

I have to believe that crime fiction speaks to the voyeur in all of us. The part who want to know how criminals live and what they think. And the best crime fiction makes us realize they are one of us, or we are one of them. We find ourselves identifying with the character at some parts, wishing they had more of a moral compass at other parts. We may get disgusted at their choices, other times we may just wish they'd be more slick and get away with it. All of these things and more crossed my mind as I committed crimes alongside Jake and Walker.

Read this for the story, for the plot, for the characters, and for the concise as a concrete slab prose. If you are lucky like me, you can read it at your parents cottage, isolated, surrounded by snow, which was exactly the setting the characters found themselves in as they tried to cover the tracks of their misdeeds. I was able to go home and live happily ever after with my family. The characters of this book may have not been so lucky.


Check out the amazon page here:

1 comment:

Les Edgerton said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful, wonderful review, Mark! As it happens, I just finished reading one of your novels, ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN, and am equally gobsmacked! One of the tensest reads I can ever recall reading. I'll be using it in my classes to show writers how to create, maintain, and build tension on every page.

Again, thank you for making my day!

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