I really liked this book. It’s a great first novel and I promise to read more Wallace Stroby.
Thing is, I wanted to like this book more. But it leans one some of my least favorite tropes in male-written crime fiction.
The first chapter is one of the best first chapters I’ve read in a crime novel. It does a great job of introducing setting, protagonist and problem. Right away, I was pulled into its bleak, lower-class Jersey shore atmosphere. The dialogue was finely tuned and I was ready to fall in.
And the story kept building and building until…
Sigh. White Knight-ism.
Look, there’s frequently a certain degree of white knight-ism in male written fiction when a woman is romantically involved. Especially if she’s romantically involved with the Bad Guy.
But ugh, it sidetracked what I thought was about to be a firecracker of a crime novel.
And once it focused on that angle, it didn’t let go. Not only that, but it revealed some of the books bigger weaknesses: stock characters, predictable plot, recycled tropes (though he sidesteps making the protagonist an alcoholic).
So it’s still good, it just had the chance to be so much more.
Nevertheless, for a first novel, Wallace Stroby knows what he’s doing. A former journalist in Jersey, he has his turf down cold. I’m glad he branched out to other things besides just publishing this series over and over again (there’s only one other Harry Rane novel). So I’ll definitely read more. I just hope he takes a broader view of his plots in future books.