In a brilliant follow-up to his impressive debut (The Barbed-Wire Kiss, 2003), Stroby continues the hard-boiled adventures of Harry Rane.
“You’re a good man,” a downhearted frail says to Harry Rane. “Don’t let anybody tell you different.” And she’s right. Beneath the flinty façade and the iron curtain of habitual Weltschmerz beats a stout heart full to bursting with generous indignation at injustice. So it’s no surprise that Nikki Ellis, the downhearted frail, turns to Harry when she’s troubled by John Harrow, a stone killer who’s just been released from Florida’s Belle Glades State Prison after a seven-year jolt for attempted murder. Nikki has no doubt that her former lover has her in his sights. Never mind that he can’t possibly know she’s living in New Jersey. Johnny’s a special case, she insists grimly. What he wants, he finds. And he wants her and the son he’s never seen, the son she’s given over for adoption. Harry becomes a believer, but even he isn’t quite ready for this one-man wrecking crew. When Harrow and Rane go mano à mano in the obligatory showdown, the denouement is bloody, explosive, and deeply satisfying.
Harry Rane walks these mean streets perfectly at home with the icons: Spade, Marlowe, and Archer.