2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Welcome return to Jokertown, just weak in places,
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This review is from: Fort Freak (Wild Cards Novel) (Hardcover)
and a complete change from the previous three globetrotting volumes.
Based back where the series began it has been a while since any one book has been set totally within the confines of Jokertown and it is still the most solid and best defined scenario created with great back history and cast of characters to draw on.
Fort Freak refers to the police precinct in the area, from memory mentioned in other books but never really addressed in any detail, and the introduction of the characters working there is the core of the book.
Alongside the new characters, old characters missing for quite a while make a return in either cameos or to flesh out their previous cameo appearances although they are on the whole jokers.
Jube, The Oddity, the Jokertown clinic and the Bowery Wildcard dime museum and owner Charles Dutton are among the characters and locations resurrected that frequently featured in the older books.
As with all the other books, there is a central storyline that runs throughout and builds the framework, being an unsolved murder in 1978 that a nearly retiring detective in 2010 gets drawn back into investigating and is the character on the front of the book.
Unlike the other books, from hazy memory, the linked side stories are more stand alone than weaved into the main story, with tenuous links that add strands instead of being core. It is more like a separate short story of a character mentioned in the main story and interrupted the flow of the central storyline for me.
Starting off well the second chapter is what I considered to be the weakest story in the book, called The Rook and having been the teaser release prepublication. It is written in first person instead of third, being only one of two in this volume, and I really didn't enjoy it at all, souring the book for me so early on. I would have bought it anyway, but with trepidation if I have read this chapter beforehand.
The storyline then continues on, although the related but stand alone stories did water down and divert the story for me all the way through. I also really didn't enjoy the thread involving a ménage a trois between an ace dancer, nat detective boyfriend and deuce prostitute with an ace 2 year old daughter thrown in for good measure.
As with the previous volume, a long established character meets their end and the murder story as a whole ends with a not predictable suspect, from at least my perspective of reading it.
Overall I would say it is a 3 1/2, but I could not warrant a 4 due to the disjointed writing that the normally exquisitely woven mosaic of this series is.
I would also say that a second reading may increase my enjoyment, understanding who did it to read more into the potential clues and also expecting the breaks in the storyflow.
Great to be back in Jokertown, disappointed at the absence of the usually high quality of the series.