Move over Raymond Chandler, there's a new kid in town, and he's good...damned good.
I have always loved Chandler's work and usually find myself comparing anything in the same genre to him.Well guess who has a new benchmark?
I am still smiling at the pristine and rapid fire dialogue. 1940's USA and it's all there...the attitude, the sights, smells, sounds of that time and place are alive and well and living on these pages, luring you in and holding you captive.
I dare you not to smile at the verbal exchanges. The pacing is as perfect as it gets, author Simon Swift doesn't rush you through, he uses his unique style to edge you into that marvelous state of "I must know more!"
Don't misunderstand, the characterizations lose nothing in this pace. They are rich and intensely visual.
I am putting this on my list of best books for 2011.
Do yourselves a favor...read it.
by Simon Swift
Wild Wolf Publishing
( 4 stars out of 5 )
“Black Shadows” is a fun fast paced detective story. It has that film noir feel to it. The dialogue is spot on with the time period of the 30′s and 40′s.
The opening scene starts with a bang or should I say a gangland style shootout. Errol Christopher Black survives, but a fellow detective Terry Shadow is slain in the hail of bullets. A decade later, Black takes on what he believes to be a routine case and finds himself entangled with mobsters.
As you might expect from a detective story, there are plenty of twists. The setting is great and I enjoyed much of the smart dialogue. You can’t help but think of some of the old classic PI movies. This book is in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett, Jonathan Latimer, and Erle Stanley Gardner.
Good story, I recommend it. I give it 4 stars out of 5.
Darkroom is an incredible rollercoaster journey of such power and intensity that it leaves you breathless. Classically it could be described as a psychological thriller, but this does not do justice to the multi-layered, complex plot that Poppet has so expertly woven. At first it appears a simple tale of good versus evil, the good being the young, carefree and spirited young woman, Shauna, and the evil, depraved, sociopath, Victor or Vengeance.
It opens with Shauna captive to the wicked Vengeance, who it appears is on a mission from God to cleanse this 'dirty angel'. The wearing of jeans is deemed a sin worthy of the most cruel and graphic violence and sexual manipulation. On her release, Shauna is shunned by all her nearest and dearest, and put down as delusional. She runs away to South Africa and soon continues her carefree lifestyle of before, only to once again suffer at the hands of Vengeance. A one-night stand is blown up outside her apartment; another supposedly commits suicide, leading to her best friend cutting her out of her life. Every aspect of her life is coloured by the hand of Vengeance, who justifies his actions as the duty from a higher authority.
When it appears Shauna can suffer no more, we are introduced to her neighbour, Victor, and at times the narrative dips into romance, but it is always laced with a good dose of horror. Of course Victor is really Vengeance and continues to manipulate every area of her life, using his Darkroom to monitor her every move. When she steps out of line, he again dons the attire of Vengeance and subjects her to such a violent abusive attack, that she comes close to death. What the author does so expertly is switch the POV and put you right in the mind of the protagonists. I found myself almost pantomime-like shouting out 'NO!' at times as we are privy to the most intimate thoughts of Shauna and Victor / Vengeance. Upon realising the severity of his attack on Shauna, I thought briefly Victor was going to change, see the error of his ways and realise he really loved her. I am sure that this was the intention of the author, before throwing you completely off with wicked twist after wicked twist.
Towards the end of the novel, you do find out more about Victor / Vengeance and this is where the constant quotations from the bible resonate most. We find out very early on that he is an avenging angel, a Jesus-like chosen one, with an omniscient Father, but it is when his disciples appear (Peter and Seth being two) that a lot of the pieces suddenly slot into place. Not since the epic Moby Dick with Captain Ahab's biblical tussle, has a novel used references to the bible so powerfully. I actually found myself digging out a copy and researching the phrases used.
As earlier reviews have warned, Darkroom is in places not an easy book to read - the violence is unwavering and the imagery is incredibly dark. But you must, you absolutely must, because it is an exhilarating ride and the pages turn effortlessly. I found myself thinking I had worked out the ending, only to be thrown off course by an ingenious twist or turn, which makes you read on. Thought provoking is not even close to what Darkroom is. It is as close to an 'unputdownable' book as I have read!
When I did the reach the end, I found myself out of breath. The adrenaline was truly flowing, I had become so engaged and involved with the characters. At times I actually rooted for Victor, as the lines between good and evil became blurred, but deep down I knew what he had done and it repulses and shocks in equal measure. The culmination of the novel leaves one last, truly wicked twist with the publication of two alternative endings. I read and enjoyed both, although without giving it all away, I chose the first. Maybe it's the romantic in me, maybe it's the belief in redemption, maybe it was simply the fact that I had lived out a couple of intense days with these remarkable characters and come to love them. Lots of maybes, but the one thing that is far from a maybe is that Poppet has crafted an incredible book, one that should be read by all. I recommend this book most highly.
My old buddy, Jake Barton, another authonomy Gold Star Winner, is currently setting the Kindle world alight with his explosive thriller Burn, Baby Burn. Now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lee Child and Alan Guthrie in the top 20 of all paid for kindles, Jake is living proof that authonomists can make it.
Here is what he said about Black Shadows...
Black Shadows is Raymond Chandler or James Ellroy reinvented for the 21st century. There’s a real authenticity about the period; the setting – New York in the 1940s - the characters – all coming together in a detective story that really hits the heights.
From the dramatic opening onwards, the reader is hooked. It’s a proven formula: a wisecracking detective, exotic female characters and shady gangsters, but here everything works so well. The sense of pace is perfectly judged, the short, snappy sentences adding to the excitement. Simon Swift is a clever, inventive writer with the ability to take the detective story to new heights.
The acknowledged masters of the genre: Chandler, Hammett and their ilk are long gone. Make way for a new star in their firmament, Simon Swift, and his exceptional novel, Black Shadows.
Black Shadows has been signed to UK based publisher, Wild Wolf Publishing.
Wild Wolf Publishing specialise in dark, brutal and edgy fiction. If it falls between the cracks of civilised life ... we start salivating.
I will join the ranks of Author Poppet, Jo Reed, Andy Kirby and Karl Vadaszffy on the Wild Wolf books. A very exciting time. At the moment we are looking at a May launch. I will be sure to keep you posted!
Check out the draft promotional flyer for Black Shadows! I love it. It captures the mood and the feel of the book perfectly. A massive thank you to Andy Evans for all his hard work!
Just got another great plug from the wonderful Catherine Chsinall. Here it is...
Christmas Book recommendations- part Deux! Black Shadows
Another book has caught my eye: Black Shadows by Simon Swift.
A crime thriller for Christmas to tease your powers of deduction and transport you into the past.
Black Shadows is a crime novel blending fact and fiction. New Jersey 1935: rookie private detective, Errol Black, gets mixed up in the killing of Dutch Schultz. Ten years later, a young lady hires Black for a seemingly routine surveillance job. When one-time partner, Dyke Spanner is shot to death, Black is drawn into a violent and bloody quest for a priceless diamond.
"The strength of the writing led me to imagine that I was entering into a 1940’s movie with Humphrey Bogart in the wings.
I also firmly believe that with the right exposure, there is potential here for a film.
Many times during reading BLACK SHADOWS I was convinced that I had all the answers, only to be completely wrong footed by the superb, imaginative writing of Simon Swift," says Teresa Geering, author of 'The Eye of Erasmus'.
"Excellent read. One of the best detective stories I've read. Great characters and a very good plot. The pace is fast and really holds your interest. This one is well worth reading. I highly recommend it," says John Harold McCoy, author of 'Bramwell Valley'.
What I think is:
If you fancy being drawn into the world of film noir, slick private eyes and femm fatales, this is the book for you. Here's lookin at you, kid.
Check out Catherine's blog here...
The must awaited sequel to Black Shadows is almost ready. Preview the novel right here at the home of Errol Black. Enjoy...
BLACK SHADOWS I have just finished reading this thrilling book by Simon Swift, and below is my review.
BLACK SHADOWS REVIEW SIMON SWIFT
Black Shadows is not a book I would normally choose to read, but I’m so glad the opportunity was given to me.
We are introduced to the main character Errol Christopher Black, a rookie private detective as he tucks into a large bloody porterhouse steak. Detectives Terry Shadow and Dyke Spanner of the Shadow Man Detective Agency are helping him work his way through a now half empty bottle of claret.
The story unfolds in Newark New Jersey in 1935 where mobs rule, and we are witness to a typical shoot out of the time. As the table is upended to afford some form of protection from the flying bullets, they realise that they are not the intended targets but Terry Shadow meets his untimely end with two clean bullets to the head.
Ten years down the line we find Errol Christopher Black with a new partner, Hermeez Wentz and now based in Manhattan at the Black and Wentz Detective Agency along with his very obliging secretary Ava Jameson.
Errol seems happy to take on run of the mill cases and his new client Claudia seems to fit into that category. She tells of a straying fiancé George, along with the discovery of a lipstick and pair of lacy panties which don’t belong to her.
As he takes on what he considers to be a routine surveillance case, Errol is unexpectedly drawn back once more to the mobsters and gangs of that time.
His one time partner Dyke Spanner is shot to death and Errol finds himself on the trail of a blue diamond coveted by hoodlums and beautiful women alike.
The story unfolds with many twists and turns, whilst the reader is witness to the beautiful women that Errol chooses to bed, in his quest for the diamond and the elusive George. Murder is not a rare occurrence either. To state more would give away too much of the plot.
The strength of the writing led me to imagine that I was entering into a 1940’s movie with Humphrey Bogart in the wings.
I also firmly believe that with the right exposure, there is potential here for a film.
Many times during reading BLACK SHADOWS I was convinced that I had all the answers, only to be completely wrong footed by the superb, imaginative writing of Simon Swift.
T K Geering 10/10/2010