Paperboy – Book Review

Paperboy: A Dylan Tomassi Novel is the first novel in Dan Romanello’s Dylan Tomassi series. This novel covers the early years of Dylan, starting with his childhood, sliding through his high school and college years, and ending in his thirties. The author gives us a good chunk of Dylan’s life to learn about him, his friends, and his family long before the real action begins in the books.

So I’ll be honest upfront. I found the first chapter of Paperboy to be slow, and it was not till the second chapter that I started to get into the book. However, I am not one to give up on a book; even if I find the first chapter slow, I work through it to finish it. More so when it’s a review copy, an author or their managers have gone out of their way to provide. So, Paperboy does get more interesting as Dylan’s story starts to work itself out. Aside from what I felt to be a slow start, I should state that there are implied sexual situations in this novel, so if you are uncomfortable with that, you should avoid it.

Now on to some more entertaining aspects. Even beyond Dylan, the main character, the characters are well-created with personalities and responses that come off as real people. In addition, the story progression, while drawn out, is entertaining. I hope, however, that the next novel will have more excitement. Yes, I enjoyed this one enough to read the next. While I may complain about the pacing, in the end, we are given an excellent story with well-crafted characters that pull you in, even if it takes a couple of chapters to do it.

Straight for the Kill – Book Review

Straight for the Kill by Winter Austin is a thrilling mystery in the small town of Juniper, Iowa. It stars many characters, including Shireff Elizabeth Benoit and Depyty Lila Dayne, the main characters. These two powerful female characters trudge through the complicated aspects of a cold case, suddenly becoming very hot as a similar murder turns up twenty-five years later. This complex case hits closer to home as it involved relatives of the Shireff and the Duputy family and friends. This page-turner culminates in a bloody ending that left me excited at every turn to read the finale.

Winter Austin has produced one hell of a book. Not only is the story exciting and one I found myself easily lost in, but the characters are so perfectly normal they feel real. Sure, they have been through complicated histories and a lot of violence, but their flaws and personalities make them feel they are dealing with their issues and natural ways. No one nearly gets killed and walks away from it without some kind of emotional scarring, and each of Winter Austin’s characters has plenty of it. Some hide it, and some learn to live with it, but it is there and makes them feel real.

The story itself is exciting. We learn through the various sheriff department officers what they learn as they go and how their family and friends have been tied to this dreadful crime for decades. Each hint and assumption the character makes leaves the reader wondering if what they have learned is true or if there will be some sudden twist of events in the end. Now, full disclosure, I could guess who the antagonist was. However, I had just learned how they were tied to the story at the end!

If you enjoy thrillers with strong female characters, I suggest you pick Straight for the Kill by Winter Austin. I will pick up more of Austin’s work once I have the time.

Kolkata Noir – Novella Review

Kolkata Noir is another fantastic story by Tom Vater. In fact, it is three great stories tying in to a forty year long tale of unrequited love and international intrigue. The story follows a female Indian police inspector and a British photographer as they go about finding the murderer of a wealthy man. In the process of solving the case, they deal with a variety of social and political issues which eventually end up separating the two. However, they meet again in twenty years, and then again in forty!

Told in three novellas, Kolkata Noir takes place in 1999, 2019 and 2039, telling the story in the past, present and future, giving this tale both a contemporary and speculative feel to it. We get to see the lives of the two main characters change as they go from hopeful youths to complicated older people aiming for a safe retirement in a world that is slowly drowning.

In short, the story of Kolkata Noir is amazing, a lot of story is packed in to these three short pieces of writing. Vater does a good job of tying up all the loose ends in each novella, so they do not leave you wondering, as can often happen with shorter stories. The characters are well written and interesting. Having different needs that make them feel like individuals instead of just characters.

So, is Kolkata Noir worth reading? It is a definite must read for fans of classic crime and noir dramas. Pick it up and you will have a blast!

The Family Man – Book Review

The Family Man by Anna Willett is a fantastic novel following the story of an Australian police detective Veronika Pope as she and her team do their best to solve a case that has been cold for years after a video containing the torture of four people in found in a couples attic while the renovate thier new home.

The story focuses mainly on Veronika and her peers as she tries to pull the pieces of a complicated and dark, cold case. The villain they are after, while dead, was a very deranged man who seemed to have very little issue treating those around him with the foulest of intentions. I will not go further in to the story to avoid spoilers, but some it is a dark tale.

The characters of The Family Man are all well written with backgrounds that fit well in to the story as a whole. The main character, Veronika, is a well developed female character. While described in an attractive person, there is no forced love story to take away from the police work. And while there is some implied romance, it is a strictly background story. This gives more focus on the characters intelligence, leading to an impressive female lead, which can be fairly difficult in darker novels.

So is The Family man worth reading? Most certainly. Pick up this novel to get your cold case mystery thrill and so much more.

Devil in the Red Dirt – Book Review

The Devil in the Red Dirt is a historical fiction novel by Michael P. Smith taking place in Australia in the mid-60s. It follows a corrupt detective, a damaged but well meaning detective and an aboriginal man who had lost his identity as they search the gorgeous and troubled physical and mental landscape of Australia seeking the demented killer of innocent children who seems to have people in power covering their tracks.

The Devil in the Red Dirt is an excellent read. It covers some incredibly difficult topics ranging from racism to child abuse to death and drug use. These difficult topics are covered in all their filthy detail, making sure this novel not for the faint of heart. If any of the topics mentioned this book easily disturb you, this book is not for you. However, I found the disturbing nature of the story made it an excellent work of fiction, and more so, an excellent mystery. Smith does an excellent job of leaving you wanting to know more and how this villain will pay for their crimes, or if the morally bankrupt society they live in will win out!

As stated before, The Devil in the Red Dirt is an excellent, though very dark, novel. The story is well written and the main characters, who are all well rounded and twisted enough to feel real. The side characters are equally intriguing. Smith has provided us with a cast of colorful and realistic criminals, creating a fantastic display of the Australian criminal world in the 60s. Even when the story slips away from the main characters, you can find yourself still interested in the activities of the background cast. This means the story avoids the dull and mind numbing side stories that can often pop up in a novel’s supporting characters. The lives of each person mentioned form in to a wonderful over arching tapestry of human failings.

The Devil in the Red Dirt is an excellent book that fans of historical fiction, crime, or mystery could enjoy. Though don’t go in to it if you’re too squeamish about the dark side of the human species.

I got my copy of Devil in The Red Dirt from Reedsy Discovery

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