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Smitty's Calling Card (Dark Retribution) Paperback – 26 Dec 2018
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I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The lines are blurred between good and bad---
but that makes it a killer book!
Definitely well worth it.
Artie Jones and Joe Gallagher are just regular grunt police officers but they know that their superiors and the detectives assigned to the recent “new Jack the Ripper” serial murders were getting nowhere fast. This grisly killer was simply too good. When Gallagher came to the realization that the sequence of murder victims was pointing directly at Jones’ sister-in-law, a stunning high-priced call girl, he decided to risk his entire career by calling Smitty, admitting the police force’s defeat and asking for his help. As Sherlock would most assuredly have said, “The game was afoot” and the hunt was on.
From time to time, Stateham does gift his readers with moments of atmospheric, picturesque and, indeed, compelling descriptions of Smitty’s gritty, complex urban world. But, for the most part, (I dare say under the assumption that suspense thriller fans come pre-equipped with a stark, clear mental image of the other side of the tracks in a gritty big city like New York or Los Angeles), “Dark Retributions” focuses on character, dialogue and high-speed action. And it’s gripping stuff, to be sure. I have to admit that Stateham managed to pull me into the story from the very first moment and I devoured the novel in a scant two sittings. The characters are well-developed and, if they’re a little bit over the top, well, name a thriller author whose characters aren’t. Gallagher and Jones’ sister-in-law come alive. Philo Jenks, the nasty pimp and crime lord, is superbly portrayed as beyond evil and readers will definitely find themselves rooting for his demise with the turn of every page.
That’s the good news, but … there are always “buts”, aren’t there?
First, “Dark Retributions” is in desperate (and I really do mean desperate) need of an editor. Spelling errors, grammatical errors, and errors in sentence construction crop up so often as to be intensely distracting. If BR Stateham wants to take his place as a recognized writer of quality suspense thrillers, he simply has to find a way to make his output professional, clean and error-free.
Secondly, in my opinion at least, the solution to the crime and the plot resolution is problematic. While I managed to identify the serial killer at slightly under half-way through the story, the final key to the crime came as a deus ex machine revelation of a previously unknown player and the fact that virtually every character in the story knew the intimate details of the life of every other character. The only folks fully in the dark seemed to be Smitty, Gallagher and Jones. Ultimately, it worked but it just wasn’t convincing or satisfying.
So here’s the bottom line. “Dark Retributions” gets 3 stars (given that I found it enjoyable and a quick compelling read, I could hardly give it less) but it gets only a provisional recommendation. I’m pretty certain that Stateham’s plot development skills will improve and I’m anticipating that he’ll find that editor. I’m looking forward to trying out the sequel promised by the brilliant foreshadowing in the closing paragraphs.
Prostitutes are being brutally murdered, and their killer leaves no trace and no clues. Smitty is asked to stop this fiend before he kills again. The cop has more of a stake in ending this killing spree than simply doing his job. Sources reveal his sister-in-law may be the killer’s next victim. Smitty works his way through the maze of suspects and potential victims, only to be drawn into a convoluted web of deceit and death. As the body count rises on all sides, no one could have ever imagined where Smitty’s investigation would lead.
In Dark Retribution, B.R. Stateham permits us to shadow the dark and elusive Smitty: Hope to the oppressed and living nightmare to the oppressor. B.R. has created for us a character who is neither superhuman nor supernatural, but who possesses an uncanny ability to sift through miscues and lies, and hone in on his intended target. Dark Retribution is a thriller that will lead you down a twisted and disturbing path, and you will relish every step of the journey.
<I>I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.</i>