I used to see Shovel Ready at bookstores and think to myself “Oh, that seems like an interesting read.” And before I spent money on it, I would eventually remember that I already owned it on Kindle, buying it for a deal back in the days where I used to fastidiously track Kindle deals.
Yet for all the time I’ve owned it, I’ve never really been interested in reading it. The premise is one up my alley: hit man operating in a dystopic New York City but I never sat down to finish it.
Then as I was doing research on dystopia reads to match my dour pandemic mood, I found this one once more. And I saw on GoodReads that two writers I like and follow: Steph Cha and Roxanne Gay both loved the book and rated it 5-stars. Well, that was good enough for me.
I didn’t love it as much as they did but it is an entertaining read. Written in the quote-free style of a Charlie Huston novel, it’s the sparse, pulp-y, propulsive kind of thrill read I was looking for. It also uses the disaster that impacted New York City to skew the city itself (everyone avoids Times Square, Brooklyn is a cliche, Wall Street sucks, etc.), which I appreciated. To top it off, there’s a religious angle that I thought was handled well.
There are some cliched moments and some eye-rolling scenes but overall, it’s a quality read. I’m sure glad I got it at a deal rather than pay retail price.