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Charlie's Books
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"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Book Review: A Dangerous Lesson (Dana King) … New Hampshire/Spotlight Publicity … Crime Fiction Lover on Tommy Red … Next Week in TK …

Author, Dana King, is having a very good year. The Man in the Window (a Nick Forte Mystery), has been nominated for a Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original. This is King’s second nomination for the Shamus Award. If that isn’t enough, his Pittsburgh Penguins may well win the Stanley Cup tonight out west in San Jose.

And if that isn’t enough, his latest entrée into the world of Private Investigator novels, A Dangerous Lesson, is another rock solid page turner, featuring some of the cleverest writing you’ll find anywhere.

A Dangerous Lesson, by Dana King … Nick Forte always had a rough edge to him, but in this terrific new novel by Dana King, he’s confronted with a situation that could break any man. It’s a throwback style of Private Investigator writing I admire no end—cynical, self-deprecating, sarcastic, and clever as all hell. I started highlighting particular lines that made me smile, but was soon coloring my copy—there are that many. You can open up the book to any page and find one or two, or as many as half a dozen. Here are just a few:

Sharon’s wavy ash-blond hair and green eyes could make a guy falling off a building stop for a closer look.

Sharon got hit on more often than a driving range.

Sharon called us over after Game Two and had me cut the cake: chocolate with white icing, trimmed in black like a horse-drawn hearse. A six-inch tombstone stuck out of the icing with “Happy? 40th” written on it. She and Jan lit forty individual candles, Joey pointing out any they skipped in the midst of the conflagration. A firefighter from the station up the street stood by holding an ax and a garden hose.

Then came the gifts. A cane with wheels and a rearview mirror. Metamucil. Depends. Vanessa said she’d give me her gift later. Tony said he’d figured that and gave me a pill the size of my thumb with “Viagra” written on it.

Sharon’s wavy ash-blond hair and green eyes could make a guy falling off a building stop for a closer look.

Sharon got hit on more often than a driving range.

Even more out of place than I was, he resembled a cop the way Bradley Cooper resembles a garbage man.

“That boy’s so dumb, you moved his plate five inches he’d starve to death. Let’s keep an eye on him when this breaks up.”

Nick Forte is the essence of a Renaissance man. He’s played music with orchestras and knows his musical history, he’s a sports fan, well-read, and a genuine tough enough guy not to have to take shit from punks. He’s also a divorced parent with a very talented and smart daughter, a past career with the police, and a protective streak that can get a person into trouble.

Pay attention to the Friedrich Nietzsche epigraph prior to the prologue. He who fights against monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster in the process. And when you stare persistently into an abyss, the abyss also stares into you.

In the prologue to A Dangerous Lesson, Nick comes across a guy manhandling a woman (his wife). Nick is with his own date, but intervenes. The scene is the perfect backdrop and sign of things to come.

There are no spoilers in TK reviews. We prefer you buy the books, but suffice it to say, the journey the author takes his readers on is one that will never disappoint. The recurring characters in this wonderful series are engaging; the kind of characters you miss when they aren’t on the page you’re reading, and then make you smile when they’re back. In the backdrop to A Dangerous Lesson, a serial killer is terrorizing the city. Although the killer has nothing to with Nick’s initial P.I. job—investigating a meatball apparently looking to rip-off the granddaughter of a monied French woman—the killer does interrupt Nick’s world. The old lady who hired Nick is concerned the guy looking to marry her granddaughter is a gigolo with the worst intentions. She hired Nick to learn as much about the dude as he can, especially if it’ll convince her granddaughter to walk away from the bum.

And then there are those women being cut-up rather surgically in the city, and Nick’s friends on the force (some of those wonderful recurring characters in the series), are frustrated for lack of evidence to capture whomever it is doing the brutal killings.

Back to the Prologue where Nick stopped a woman from being beaten by her husband. There’s been a similar situation in Nick’s past when a lawyer he was trying to help leave her abusive husband didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to. Eloise Marshall haunts Nick and she is on his mind when he helps and then befriends the diminutive Josefina (Josie).

This is a terrific read, start to finish. King’s dialogue is loaded with wittiness and wonderful reflections of the culture we often label Americana. The women Nick deals with are burdened, it seems, by his chivalry, and there are twists and turns in the plot that will further engage readers. Like I said earlier, a page turner.

And remember to pay attention to Mr. Nietzsche.

Dana King’s Nick Forte series is a throwback to the best of yesteryear’s P.I. novels blessed by our modern day madness. A Dangerous Lesson is a brilliant piece of writing, perhaps the best of the series, except I distinctly remember feeling the same way about the others. If there’s a modern day Mike Hammer (minus the superhero persona), it is Nick Forte, except I like Nick a lot more.

King and a few other authors (fearing I’d leave one out, I’ll not name the ones I can remember) have made me a genuine fan of the P.I. novel and tales told in first person. Not an easy task when it comes to this curmudgeon (me). It’s a wonderful read, amici. The entire Nick Forte series is.

Get A Dangerous Lesson here:

In 2014, his P.I. novel, A Small Sacrifice (reviewed here), was nominated for Best Indie P.I. novel.

Visit Dana’s Blog here:

Some pictures from New Hampshire, where we took Tommy Red on the road with the help of Wendie Appel (that's her behind me) and her operation, Spotlight Publicity.


New Hampshire … it was GREAT catching up with so many former teachers and fellow students in New Hampshire last week as we took Tommy Red on the road with the help of Spotlight Publicity … Wendie Appel runs the show at Spotlight. She arranged the signings and a wonderful radio interview with Ken Cail at The Pulse (107.7 WTPL). Ken is the voice of the Manchester Monarchs Hockey Team and he had a bunch of great stories to tell me about some of our Tampa Bay Lightning Bolts (like Brian Boyle sitting in with Ken and doing a game on radio). Aside from visiting with friends, Ken’s broadcast was the highlight of the trip for me.

Visit Spotlights Publicity here:

Crime Fiction Lover review of Tommy Red: “Tommy Red builds to an explosive climax that should satisfy readers looking for action, while at the same time offering complex characterization and thematic complexity that is beyond the reach of most crime novels.”

Next Week in TK … Interview with Ross Gresham, author of White Shark.

— Knucks

It's Charlie these days, but look at what I found ... a Johnny Porno trailer.