Black River Paperback – Unabridged, 6 Aug 2004
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"'G. M. Ford is one of my favorite crime writers. Hilarious, provocative, and as rare as a March night in Seattle, he may be the best-kept secret.. With the exhilarating Fury, he's at top of his game This is as good as it gets' Dennis Lehane" --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
About the Author
G. M. Ford lives in Seattle. This is his second publication in the UK, following Fury.
Top Customer Reviews
The writing is good, without being exceptional, but there could have been better proof-reading. The story does move along with pace and without the over-the-top elements many crime novels seem to have these days. Importantly, the story-line itself is believable. The courtroom scenes are quite shallow and, in fact, Ford avoids creating one for the part some readers might liked to have seen (he just starts a new chapter instead and the reader is to assume the outcome).
I am not sure what to make of Corso, who is a bit of a loner, or other characters in the book, none of whom really won me over. I suspect I would do well to read a previous Corso novel to understand a little more about the man and his history.
In summary, a good crime novel which is neither sensational nor far-fetched.
Firstly, I don't mind real crime writer/sleuth Frank Corso, but he is go generic it is beyond belief. Intelligent, yet manly, he solves problems with his brains whilst seducing women with his looks. Pass me the vomit bag. A manly action hero has not ruined the likes of the Reacher novels, so what else is wrong with `Black River'? Try the fact that Ford combines dull crime fiction with even duller lawyer based fiction - Grisham on downers. The book flits between the courtroom and the street in apoplectic style. Another generic crime adage is followed when one of Corso's love interests is put in danger - yawn.
Despite the by the numbers feel of it all, this should not completely ruin the book. I have read a lot of mediocre crime fiction and still enjoyed it. The final nail in `Black River's coffin is the concluding third that wraps up the crime elements super quickly and throws in an over the top action sequence for good measure. The end of the book feels little connected to the rest of the story, Ford could have written anything leading up to it as the courtroom elements were eventually inconsequential. Why bother writing them at all then?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For years, the government has chased the Russian mobster Nicholas Balagula through one trial after another with no success. Balagula sees United States justice as a game-a game where he has always won by jury tampering, violent intimidation and the murder of witnesses. Now, he is on trial once again. This time, he is being tried for the deaths of 63 people who lost their lives in a hospital building collapse. The trail has been moved from California up to Seattle and extraordinary measures are being taken to protect the safety and integrity of the jury and the case.
Frank Corso is the only non-participant allowed to attend the murder trial of Balagula. His well-publicized notoriety and connections gets him unlimited access and he hopes to turn the project into another one of his true crime books. While he wants another success on his hands, he also wants the government to win. At the same time, with a grandstanding golden boy of the United States Attorney's Office in charge, Warren Klein, he has his doubts whether they can do the job. It looks like his suspicions are correct as from the beginning the trial things begin to go wrong and like most golden boys of one stripe or another, Klein blames everyone else for his mistakes.
While his suspicions concerning the case have been initially confirmed, Corso isn't really paying attention. His old flame and very special friend, Meg Dougherty, is in intensive care in the hospital. Apparently in her occupation as a photojournalist, she witnessed something so horrendous that she drove her car under a parked semi in a desperate attempt to get away that nearly resulted in her death. Corso wants to find out what she saw as well as clearing himself from the suspect list as the police seemed convinced that he had some hand in her near death.
Frank Corso is an interesting and hard to define character. This novel reveals a little more about his personality and what drives him while at the same time managing to hide a tremendous amount behind his darkly complex personae. As in his other books, a certain sense of darkness and moral decay pervades the work. Full of interesting complex characters, tight writing and multiple themes make this another good read. Once again, he provides a journey where justice is not an absolute black and white stereotype, but shades of gray. G. M. Ford's books are never simplistic stories with two-dimensional characters but complicated stories featuring multidimensional characters and shades of moral nuance. As always, this is another one of his books well worth reading.
In this story, the sequel to Fury, we again meet up with Frank Corso, a journalist who lost his cachet when he wrote a story based on falsified evidence. Since that time he has moved to Seattle where his determination has found him a new job and let him reestablish himself as a newsman and a writer. He has been allowed to sit in on the trial of Nicholas Balagula, a ruthless crime boss who has never been brought to justice. But when photojournalist Meg Dougherty, Corso's closest friend is suddenly attacked and very nearly killed a different kind of trial emerges, with Corso sitting in the judge's seat.
A tangled web of loose connections sends Corso down the dark side of the city, tracking down hired killers, builders, and janitors to find what Meg saw that put her in a hospital. Corso isn't a genius, but a determined seeker who can eventually work his was through the toughest knot. Although this time what he doesn't know very nearly kills him.
As always, Ford's characters a gem-like. While the bad guys are 'bad,' the good guys aren't angels, and individual idiosyncrasies bring them all to life. The main characters do develop, but slowly. It has taken Corso two novels to move from his initial bitterness to a dark cynicism. For all that Meg is unconscious for most of the book, she has changed the most, which brings out the best and the worst of Corso's character.
Like a typical shallow fan, I wasn't all that comfortable when Ford switched from Leo Waterman. I had gotten used to the humorous antics of the alcoholic bums who made up Waterman's investigatory team. But Corso is a compelling character, and this new series may very well be closer to what Ford really wanted to accomplish. In any case, I think you will find Black River great entertainment.
Frank Corso is one of those flawed characters who finds himself in the middle of a huge jigsaw puzzle involving corrupt contractors, inspectors, jurors and more than enough bad guys to fill out the mix.
Corso's a Seattle-based writer with some mistakes in his past, a huge financial settlement in his bank account, and a reclusive lifestyle.
Corso is the only invited guest to the murder trial of Nicholas Balagula, a bad-to-the-bone mobster who is responsible for the deaths of 63 people when the hospital he built collapses. This is Balagula's third trial and the prosecution is looking pretty secure. Corso is taking notes and gathering material for his new book when his world is rocked by the savage attack on his former girlfriend, a photojournalist who believes there's a link between the seemingly insignificant death of a school district's maintenance man and the Balagula trial.
After the assault, Corso's thrown into a whirlwind of plot twists, bad guys, and paper trails. There's even some Cambodian culture thrown in for good measure (maybe the beginnings of a new book?).
I like Frank Corso and found myself drawn into the plot lines, even though the tidy Hollywood-like ending was a bit too predictable.
In �Black River� the government is trying for the third time to nail known criminal and pedophile Nicholas Belagula for bribery. Witnesses and inspectors keep turning up dead.
After Corso connects seemingly unrelated events (murders) including one that strikes close to home---everything circumstantially points to Belagula.
Corso unearths a paper trail that verifies the connection. Turning an insider is all that�s needed to convict Belagula.
G.M. Ford, an excellent storyteller, gives you a nonstop, rapidly moving plot with well-developed characters. Once I got all the players clearly identified, it was impossible to put the book down.
A couple of the bad guys are Elmore Leonardish, and the primary villains are absolutely loathsome.
The appearance of the US Attorney General was a bit much and the ending too neat and tidy---but the ride to the conclusion was thrilling. Do not miss this one.
Ford's latest bad guy isn't as reprehensible as Corso's previous foe, the Trashman, but perhaps he just seems less disgusting because we're exposed to reports of unethical business practices in the news so often. Hospitals and homes are lined up along the San Andreas Fault as we read. Balagula's method to find the members of an anonymous, sequestered jury would make a market researcher proud. And even the most competent of employees will have bad days: finding the guy you're to hit already dead, buried bodies floating to the river's surface, taking out the wrong people. I almost felt sorry for these two killers. The flow of the Black River of the title is disrupted by progress, but "it's a river's nature to remain a river." As Balagula proclaims his innocence the progress of his criminal empire continues to flow. But even a criminal empire runs into obstacles now and then.
G. M. Ford has once again provided a compelling journey into the world of crime and fascinating look into the complex personality of one of fiction's newest heroes.