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Cold Fire, Calm Rage

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by Joe Stein

  Raymond-Mickey Chandler-Spillane comes to Europe's mean streets in the shape of a broken-fisted boxer getting mixed up in double-dealing Euro-crooks.  At the start I did have to give the book an even break; but, once I got past the over-detailed introductory pages, the pace quickened and the prose at times became as slick and sharp as an oiled knife. Whatever that means - I just wanted to try my hand at some noir....
   Basic plot is something gets stolen from one gangster, is sought by hired others. Runs along the lines of a Brit gangster pic, savours of 'Minder' minus the dodgy spiv. The central driving-on dilemma facing the central character is will-he-won't-he take the next step, from being a reactive minder, bit of a bruiser, to a proactive killer? To kill or not to kill: that is the question.
   Told in the first person throughout, mostly by the ex-boxer, it gets by with just enough idiom to give some local colour. (Has to be said that the first person singular didn't work when switched to one of the Euro crooks.) Some of the plot turns are telegraphed, some contrived twists over-explained; and, at times, the author seemed to lose his grip - on plot, characters and scenario - with some passages becoming all theory, no bite. But, all in all, although the prose could have been sharpened up, it kept me reading through to the end. One for the beach.

ISBN 1 904781 34 9
BlueChrome Publishing, 2004
248pp, paperback
Retail price 7.99

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Review by Zane F. Fischer