The disappearance of a wealthy CEO, corporate murder, and a ‘stealth’ company Eradication Inc. that operates below the radar providing a sophisticated hitman service: all of this forms the crux of Edward Izzi’s latest crime novel Contracts for Sale. This story begins with a chillingly efficient disposal of a well-dressed corpse in a vat of hydrofluoric acid—the perfect crime that leaves no body, no witnesses, no DNA. Paul Crawford, a journalist, along with the Chicago P.D and a news anchor Chaz Rizzo, work in a friends-and-enemies dynamic to solve the cases of Eradication Inc.’s ‘Houdini Victims’ with no discernible links to each other disappearing throughout the city of Chicago.
The irresistible lure that power and money has, coupled with the desire for revenge and control, is made very clear and is brought out well in this gritty story. Despite the millions that each of the seven shareholders of Eradication Inc. receive every year from the company’s nefarious activities, personal motives compel some of them to put out contracts against their personal enemies—something that the company strictly forbids.
The author does a good job of holding the reader’s attention with his account of the company’s workings, proven in the fact that the reader knows Eradication Inc. to be responsible for the murders within the first few chapters and is still engrossed in the story. The worlds of reporting and policing are de-glamorized in this book, with Crawford and Detective Dorian working to deadlines, reporting to superiors, and playing by the rules, something that is rarely shown in most police thrillers.
Contracts for Sale by Edwrad Izzi expertly combines strong characters, knowledgeable descriptions of Chicago’s geography and its environment, with the various fields of journalism, detectives, the mob underworld, and upscale society to tell a grounded and realistic police procedural story that is thrilling and compelling.
Pages: 334 | ASIN: B0BK4VQ21V
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Boone Daniels is your typical knight in shining armor. His sense of justice and loyalty is strong, especially after a terrible accident at a jousting match that puts his best friend, Flynn, in the hospital. Unable to perform with his band, the Village Idiots, Flynn asks Boone to take his place in New York at a charity ball. Provided with an address and time, Boone heads to NYC to meet the Village Idiot’s benefactor, Professor Stone. Boone soon stumbles upon his true purpose for being in New York – to stop Sinti from summoning the devil and stop Baba Yaga, an immortal being who has been trapped in a deep sleep for centuries, from destroying NYC. Along with his new friend, Sapphire, Boone helps a secret organization fight a long-time war with the Dragon and Nymph society.
In The Devil Pulls the Strings, Joseph Zarek brings to life magic and monsters found in European lore. This is an exciting story that I found to be fast-paced and full of action. The author hits on thrilling plot points rapidly, moving Boone through his next steps to stopping Sinti quickly with just enough time to digest what happened before moving on.
Readers are immediately introduced to intriguing magic and mythological creatures before the main character, which sets readers up to know what kind of imaginative story they are delving into, but I feel like this prevents readers from discovering this secret world along with the main character.
Some of the information the author uses is factual and conforms to the original mythology, which I loved, but in some areas the author bends mythological rules in unique ways, which I love even more. For example, Wendigos prey on people who are socially disconnected or corrupt, greedy and/or weak. I enjoyed the author’s fresh take on these mythological creatures.
The Devil Pulls the Strings is a quirky epic fantasy adventure that is relentlessly moving forward and never forgets to entertain the reader. The modern reimagining of old mythologies and the mash-up of multiple mythologies makes this a one-of-a-kind fantasy that readers will surely enjoy.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B09435JJ67
Tags: action, adventure, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, epic fantasy, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, J.W. Zarek, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, teen, The Devil Pulls the Strings, urban fantasy, urban life, writer, writing, ya books, young adult
Songs from Richmond Avenue is a novel about characters that could be found in any town. The main character is a journalist that knows all the questionable characters that hang out on Richmond Avenue in Houston. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I felt like it was important that if I was going to write a book at some point in my life, I get on with it. Since the age of about 20 years old, back when I was a journalism student, I had always just assumed I’d get around to writing a book. I guess the older I got the more not writing a book bothered me.
Fortunately, a few years ago, I became unemployed for about eight months. I say fortunately because that’s when the book started taking shape. I was drawing unemployment after a publication I worked for went belly up. I looked for work online in the morning and when that got boring, which happened pretty quickly most days, I started writing a couple of short stories based loosely on some funny things I’d witnessed riding metro buses or walking through my neighborhood. One morning I stuck a couple of these short stories together and decided to have them come from the voice of a single, first-person narrator. Then I decided to have the narrator go to a bar. That is the essence of the book. While it didn’t take a long time to actually write, there was fairly long span of time between when I started and completed it, because I set it aside when I got another job. Maybe there’s a lesson in that, but I hope not.
What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
That’s a tough one since I really didn’t approach Songs From Richmond Avenue with any thoughts of trying to espouse any particular point of view. This isn’t really a moralizing kind of book that takes sides among its characters or proclaims one vantage point in a conflict is right and the other one is wrong. I think the moral perspective might be not to be judgmental of others. There are no heroes or villains in the book, just people with strengths and weaknesses having good and bad moments. I think the book may share its basic moral underpinning with film noir. These characters live by their own loose moral codes and the protagonist, despite his many trials and close calls, doesn’t come away having learned much of anything from his ordeal.
How did you decide on the title of this novel?
Initially, I thought the book would be more a series of individual character vignettes, loosely held together by the fact that they all frequented a fictional dive bar called the Relix Club on Houston’s Richmond Avenue.
There was originally going to be more of a secondary plot involving a down-and-out musician who occasionally hung out at the bar. There were also bands and singers who appeared there, so I came up with Songs From Richmond Avenue, using “song” as a metaphor for each of the character’s lives. When I changed courses a bit, the book remained Songs From Richmond Avenue, primarily because I liked how it sounded and couldn’t come up with anything better.
What is the next story that you are writing and when will it be available?
It’s a book that, hopefully, will be available in about year. This will be largely dependent upon whether I write a little more frequently once baseball season is over. I’m about halfway through a story that bears some similarities to Songs From Richmond Avenue – hapless characters, drunken debauchery, bad company, worse decisions. The setting will be far less urban, but what isn’t less urban than Houston? There won’t be a first-person narration this time either. It’s had a couple of working titles, both of which are terrible, so I won’t mention them.
If the adage “nothing civilized ever resulted from the drinking of beer” requires further proof, one needs look no farther than down Houston’s pothole-infested Richmond Avenue. There, the blurry-eyed denizens of the Relix Club wile away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting.
Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”
Could she be his redemption? Maybe, but first he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry.
Mostly satire, often wildly unpredictable, the only real long shot in Songs From Richmond Avenue would be for its protagonist to put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value.
Posted in Interviews
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Songs from Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed is a dark novel about characters that could be found in any town. The main character is a journalist that seems to know all the questionable characters that hang out on Richmond Avenue in Houston. He meets a beautiful woman named Michelle that he becomes infatuated with from the start. Michelle could change things for the journalist, but not before he gets caught up in some seriously crazy shenanigans that include kidnapping, booze and roommates. Among everything else, you get to know some barflies who have very interesting stories and a love for alcohol and bets.
This story isn’t long, but packs quite a bit into such a small package. I can imagine this story set in any small local dive bar. There would be those regulars that have extremely colorful stories that are darkly humorous. The writing is unique and paints a descriptive image of all the characters in the book. Each one has personality and detail that many authors gloss over. His descriptions made it easy to visualize and even smell each and every one.
There will be a number of readers who will identify with the different characters and most likely sympathize with them as well. I felt as though I was getting a glimpse into someone’s real life experiences, not the work of fiction. The journalist doesn’t even have a name, yet throughout the story I didn’t even notice. I made it pretty far in before thinking, “Hey, what the heck is this guys name?”
“Songs from Richmond Avenue” could almost be called a drunks love story, as the journalist finds himself wishing for a future with Michelle. He may not exactly be a romantic character, it’s love just the same. Throw in some depressing thoughts while mixing in some humorous parts and that sums up this story.
It took me some time to really get into the story. Michael Reed has a unique way of developing his characters that takes a bit of adjusting to. Once I got farther into the story and got use to the craziness, I was in for the long haul and wasn’t bothered in the slightest. This is definitely not a light and airy read, but I think that is part of the appeal. I had to read slower than I usually would have with any other book which made me connect with the locations and situations. I honestly don’t want to tell you too much, so that you can have the same experience as I did. The antics that take place are so off the wall I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for the next reader!
While it did pick up later, it was a bit hard to get into at first. Many readers I know would put down a book they weren’t drawn into from the beginning. While I know that a slow beginning doesn’t mean anything, that doesn’t make you not feel a bit frustrated. I would suggest anyone who enjoys dark humor and crazy drunken stories to give this book a shot.
Pages: 185 | ASIN: B01N039ZM7
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