BLACK MOUNTAIN by Laird  Barron


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A former mob enforcer–turned–private eye is called in to investigate the savage murder of a Mafia leg-breaker in New York's Hudson Valley and finds himself on the trail of corporate espionage and a serial killer long believed dead.

The second book in Barron's series featuring Isaiah Coleridge (Blood Standard, 2018) seems, more than the debut, an obvious attempt to establish Coleridge as a strongman smartass in the Jack Reacher mold. The fight scenes are the written equivalent of action-movie choreography but without suspense, because the setup—Isaiah being constantly outnumbered—is so clearly a prelude for the no-sweat beat downs he doles out to the various thugs who get in his way. There's nary a memorable wisecrack in the entire book. What does stick in the mind are the sections that go out of their way to be writerly. It's not enough to say that it was a starry night in the Alaskan wilderness. Coleridge (the name is a clue to the series' literary aspirations) says, "I could've read a book by the cascading illumination of the stars." A later flash of insight is conveyed by "The scalpel of grim epiphany sliced into my consciousness." What with the narrative that spreads like spider cracks in glass and the far-too-frequent flashbacks to the man who was Coleridge's mentor, you might wish another scalpel had made its way through the manuscript.

This is secondhand tough-guy stuff, memorable only in that it feels like you've read it all before.

Pub Date: May 7th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7352-1289-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2019


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