Saturday, January 29, 2011

REVIEW: "Black Shadows" by Simon Swift

New Jersey- 1935. Errol Black finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and something serious is going down. A powerful gangster is killed and this prompts Errol to make a choice that forever changes his relationship with Dyke Spanner, former friend and partner. A decade later, Dyke is found dead, and Errol is on a mission to discover the truth underneath it all. Set within a backdrop of gangsters, violence, and beautiful, conniving women, with many twist and turns along the way, the story mirrors the time period.

A first novel by Simon Swift, "Black Shadows" has all the makings of a good gangster movie. The author does a very nice job of evoking this era, and I could definitely picture the action as it happened. It reminded me of the grainy black and white films with fast-talking detectives, cunning women, and the threat of violence at every turn. For some reason, however, I just could not get into this story. I read the first 100 or so pages (out of 248), and I decided to stop. So instead of my "standard" review, I'm going to comment on the things I noted in the first part of the book, and decline to leave a star rating.

I think the biggest strength of this book was in the imagery and the feel of the narration. The characters fit well into this era- the quintessential models of the period. In spite of the well-developed characterization, I found I really didn't like Errol's character much, and that may have been part of my difficulty in immersing in the story. I just couldn't seem to engage in what was going on. The fast-talking dialogue lacked in commas, which made it difficult for me to follow at times. Some of the missing commas actually changed the meaning and required a second read to be sure of the intention. There were a few typos, and a few punctuation switches (a question mark where a period should be, a period where a question mark should be)- in the first 100 pages, those typos numbered around 5- not excessive, but I can't speak as to the rest of the book.

Fans of the genre will likely enjoy the imagery and storyline of "Black Shadows."

Available at Smashwords

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