Bloodthirsty and thrumming, an original take on the source material.

GODS & GANGSTERS 2

A crime boss is brought down by treachery and jealousy in this retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello.

The Commission crime syndicate is headed locally by Joe Hamlet, who oversees a group of five clans that’s fairly small but still ripe for takeover. That’s the aim of Othello Moore, a new arrival who, with his crew, brutally slaughters Commission players. Convinced Othello couldn’t pull it off without backing from an insider, Joe vows to discover the culprit. Othello gives up the traitor in return for a seat at the table, creating an uneasy alliance. Things get even more tangled when Othello and Mona, Joe’s daughter, fall in love and a succession crisis looms in the Commission. In different ways, these events drive a wedge between Othello and his chief lieutenants, Cassio and Macklin Bethel, aka Cash and Mac. Resentful at being passed over for promotion, Mac hatches a scheme to stoke Othello’s insecurities and convince him Mona has cheated on him with Cash, a good-looking player. Meanwhile, Aphrodite, Joe’s wife, strives for the success of their son, Adonis, who is secretly gay and whom Joe considers weak. Plots and counterplots turn fortune’s wheel toward tragedy. In his follow-up to Gods & Gangsters (2020), SLMN makes only passing reference to that novel. This outing also delivers blood, violence, and hardcore sex, sometimes all in the same scene. The writing is skillfully evocative, and readers will appreciate the excitement of a high-stakes power play. Some may be turned off by the cruelty and the rampant sexual humiliation, nearly always of women (“Mac grabbed a handful of Milk’s hair and slapped her across the face with his dick”). The Shakespeare connection, which includes allusions to such plays as Macbeth and Hamlet as well as Othello, makes for intriguing parallels with their themes of gory revenge, corrosive jealousy, and vaulting ambition.

Bloodthirsty and thrumming, an original take on the source material.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9996390-1-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Kingston Imperial

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

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Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

THE RED BOOK

Patterson and Ellis put their characters through hell in this hard-edged second installment of their Black Book series after The Black Book (2017).

A young girl is one of four people gunned down in a “very, very bad” K-Town drive-by shooting in Chicago. Police are under intense political pressure to solve it, so Detective Billy Harney is assigned to the Special Operations Section to put the brakes on the gang violence on the West Side. His new partner is Detective Carla Griffin, whom colleagues describe as “sober as an undertaker” and “as fun as a case of hemorrhoids.” And she looks like the last thing he needs, a pill popper. (But is she?) Department muckety-mucks want Harney to fail, and Griffin is supposed to spy on him. The poor guy already has a hell of a backstory: His daughter died and his wife committed suicide (or did she?) four years earlier, he’s been shot in the head, charged with murder (and exonerated), and helped put his own father in prison. (Nothing like a tormented hero!) Now the deaths still haunt him while he and Griffin begin to suspect they’re not looking at a simple turf war starring the Imperial Gangster Nation. Meanwhile, the captain in Internal Affairs is deep in the pocket of some bad guys who run an international human trafficking ring, and he loathes Harney. The protagonist is lucky to have Patti, his sister and fellow detective, as his one reliable friend who lets him know he’s being set up. The authors do masterful work creating flawed characters to root for or against, and they certainly pile up the troubles for Billy Harney. Abundant nasty twists will hold readers’ rapt attention in this dark, violent, and fast-moving thriller.

Top-drawer crime fiction. The authors are tough on the hero, but the hero is tough.

Pub Date: March 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49940-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

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LATER

Horrormeister King follows a boy’s journey from childhood to adolescence among the dead—and their even creepier living counterparts.

Jamie Conklin sees dead people. Not for very long—they fade away after a week or so—but during that time he can talk to them, ask them questions, and compel them to answer truthfully. His uncanny gift at first seems utterly unrelated to his mother Tia’s work as a literary agent, but the links become disturbingly clear when her star client, Regis Thomas, dies shortly after starting work on the newest entry in his bestselling Roanoke Saga, and Tia and her lover, NYPD Detective Liz Dutton, drive Jamie out to Cobblestone Cottage to encourage the late author to dictate an outline of his latest page-turner so that Tia, who’s fallen on hard times, can write it in his name instead of returning his advance and her cut. Now that she’s seen what Jamie can do, Liz takes it on herself to arrange an interview in which Jamie will ask Kenneth Therriault, a serial bomber who’s just killed himself, where he’s stowed his latest explosive device before it can explode posthumously. His post-mortem encounter with Therriault exacts a high price on Jamie, who now finds himself more haunted than ever, though he never gives up on the everyday experiences in which King roots all his nightmares.

Crave chills and thrills but don’t have time for a King epic? This will do the job before bedtime. Not that you’ll sleep.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7890-9649-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hard Case Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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