Top positive review
Stateline: A place where bars never close and gambling and prostitution are respected industries.
Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2015
A hard boiled novel for lovers of the jaded underbelly of life. Not for the faint of heart.
The Good: Mr. Stanton is a talented writer with a flair for description. His depiction of Dan Reno and his environs can be precise and detailed. He has nailed the hard-boiled detective who is down on his luck and jumps at the chance to make the big bucks to investigate a murder – police, family and boss be damned. The crime he is investigating has enough twists and turns and dives into grimy bars and deep dark secrets to keep you interested. The physical descriptions of characters can show you their personality and lifestyle in one stroke. His narrative tells a tale that pulls in all your senses and makes you feel the desperation of a sleazy bar or the barrenness of a long stretch of road. Chapter 14: “The four lane highway through the desert was straight and flat . . . I cruised along at ninety, making time, my headlights flashing against the sage brush and scrub that dotted the landscape.” Chapter 25 "I could see the skies were dark and heavy, and the cold seemed to wait outside patiently, knowing it could outlast any mortal circumstance." So many good lines.
The Bad: These overlong descriptions slow the narrative and frustrated the reader. The novel starts out slow and we don’t even get to the meat of the mystery/crime for four chapters. I know you don’t need to have the whole plot exposed in the first chapter, but give us a hint of why we should even follow Dan or care about his movements. Not every character needs to have his clothing, hair and jewelry choices noted in such excruciating detail. Every meal does not need to be reported, the bad weather elaborated on and every backstory explored before we actually start to care about the crime and the investigation. Chapter 14: “The cloud cover broke up as I dropped into Carson Valley. Light patches of snow spotted the desert floor, reflecting the distant glow of stars sparkling like cut diamonds against the black sky. I turned north toward Reno and drove the length of the main drag of Carson City, past old bars in brick buildings that . . .” Are. . We. . There . . Yet . .? This paragraph goes on for another 12 lines, which - although well written - , are irrelevant to the story. You have to be patient to really enjoy this read.
The Ugly: Mr. Stanton populates his novel with characters who range from low life criminals, mob protected drug dealers, violent crooked cops, hookers (both with a heart of gold and with a heart of blackness) to higher class types who stoop to exposing their baser instincts at every turn. The hard drinking alcoholic PI and his violent, bull-in-a-china-shop, ex-cop buddy live in a world where old acquaintances include a couple of burned-out pothead alcoholics, a sexually depraved steroid abuser, a rich sexually perverted bride-groom, a manipulative drug addled slut, and other assorted scammers and unbalanced individuals. And these are just their high school classmates and ex-wives families!! This novel is it's own heart of darkness. Read on if you dare.
Mr. Stanton throws in a few good guys to balance out the bleak and destructive tone of this murder mystery. He ties up all loose ends nicely and give a very satisfying ending to a nice winding story. He is a gifted writer who in this novel focuses on the grime and grit and violence. Dan Reno does manage to salvage his own humanity, solve the murder mystery and clean up a corrupt town. One of the good guys even ends up on top.
One note about the "F" word. I noticed a few reviews which panned this book for it's use of the "F" word. For me the bad language was barely perceptible, so naturally did it fit in with the characters who used it. But I must say, I do not understand the mindset of someone who will read a book filled with bloody, brain splattering violence, sexual depravity, corruption, and death, but their one and only complaint is that the author should not have used the "F" word. All Seven Deadly Sins are fine to read about and wallow in, but once that F bomb drops, that's just going to far? Okay. . . .Whatever.
As I said, not for the faint of heart. For lovers of a good crime novel, dive right in.