Friday, April 29, 2011

Review -- Dark Quarry by David H. Fears

Dark Quarry is the first of a series of hard-boiled mysteries featuring investigator Mike Angel by author David H. Fears. I happen to like the hard-boiled genre, so I was happy to take a look at this novel.

I must admit that I found it a bit hard to get into. The author was trying to tell too much, too soon, and he was doing a bit too much telling without letting me get into the story.

As is so often the case, the story was about a murderous woman and Mike Angel falling for her. I thought it was a bit of a problem that Angel had already started the investigation and fallen for her when the novel started. Without having gotten to know the characters at all, the reader has to believe that he would cover up her murder of her husband quite so readily. This involves piling quite a lot of backstory in the first chapter.

As I said, this makes the mystery a bit hard to get into, and while metphors and similes are traditional to the hard-boiled genre, the author also piles those on a little heavily in the first chapter. Unfortunately, I suspect a lot of readers may not get past those initial problems, because Dark Quarry is a good mystery and very well written.

Once the author slows down and relaxes into his writing, in chapter two the story starts getting interested as the author gets away from backstory and starts showing the character of Mike Angel in action. The plot took some twists that surprised me, a good thing in a mystery. The writing is solid and the pacing, after that first chapter, nice and brisk.

The dead body in Chapter one might be a little too soon, and I questioned whether Mike Angel really would have covered up for Kimbra. But in the next chapter as the author brings in more characters and you start to understand Mike more, it starts to make sense and, of course, as expected, Kimbra isn't someone he necessarily should have helped. Soon she has taken off, and so has a lot of money.

The plot, which then brings in a mobster gang known as the Purple gang, gets a lot more complicated than you would first expect with Mike convicted of murder, an escape from prison and more I'd rather you read about in the novel. I also started to like the Mike Angel character once I had time to get to know him. He had an interesting voice and background. I also enjoyed that this was set in Chicago rather than LA or the West Coast as is so typical. It had a great feel for that city and the corruption so rife there.

So while I can't say this novel is without faults, the good definitely outweighs the bad. If you're a fan of the hard-boiled genre, Dark Quarry is a fun read.

You can buy Dark Quarry on Amazon and Smashwords.

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