Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Review: Trial of Tears
Trial of Tears by Chris Semal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Please note: I am re-posting this review, originally written in January, as the book is now available on Amazon - go ye forth and buy!
Disclosure: I received a free, advance copy of this book from JKS Communications – this author’s publicist – in return for an honest review.
Synopsis: Pulp Fiction meets This Is Spinal Tap in this tough, funny, sexy and fast-paced story. Pete Watts is a former undercover narcotics cop who got way too close to his job. He now runs a music rehearsal studio in which all manner of eccentric musicians come through. His soon to be ex-girlfriend is a talented singer with a sleazy manager who is in the habit of giving his clients drug habits, occasionally overdosing them to move their recordings up the charts, with the full support of the shady entertainment company for whom he works. This universe of people is inexorably drawn into a war between two violent drug gangs, viewed through the perspective of the Napoleonic leader of one gang. He has recently signed on a strange, but beautiful ex-mercenary, who wears makeup in the form of multi-colored tears running down her face. These tears are, in fact, decals on which different poisons are concealed, hence the title. Some survive the Trial of Tears, some don’t. The story’s taut climax is set in a posh townhouse in which only the courageous will emerge unscathed. While it certainly has its share of humor, action and suspense, it is also a story of friendship and redemption, as well as being a love letter to New York City.
My Thoughts: This is going to be a tricky one – this book is a bit hard to define. The music industry, drug industry, organized crime, and a very strange woman with very strange make-up all intersect in this thriller. Among the main players: Pete is a former narcotics undercover officer who, after crashing and burning into drug addiction, now owns a small practice studio for musicians. He and his friend Johnny “Styx” spend their evenings checking out odd little clubs. Angeline is Pete’s girlfriend, an up-and-coming singer, whose manager is Richie Roeper, a truly detestable little schmuck with a nose for toot. Frank Bender is the boss of a crime organization that is having problems with one of his competitors, Sal Cangliosi – Bender has already suffered the indignity of a bullet in his keister, and he and his crew are looking to stomp some heads. Included in his crew is the enigmatic Alice, who wears very odd make-up, including tears that flow down her face and which can be removed and used for … various purposes. This is just to name a few of the people and disparate elements that go into this very unusual book - I can’t think of what else I can really tell you about it without giving you even more spoilers, but I wanted to give you some idea as to what to expect.
This was an early reviewers’ copy, and I don’t know if there will be any major changes made to it before it is actually published. However, it is very well-written and edited, flows cleanly and has good character development. It sounds confusing, but the way it is written it all flows together nicely and comes together in a cohesive manner that is easy and entertaining to read. I had several laugh-out-loud moments, as Semal is very witty and the characters all reflect that. The back-and-forth between Styx and Pete, as well as between Pete and Astrid (a Swedish Speedo model), was particularly funny. Bender’s crew was pretty funny, too, in their insanely violent way – of course, by admitting that I’m probably showing off just how twisted I am, but I did enjoy it a lot. I highly recommend that fans of thrillers and crime novels check this book out – it’s a keeper!
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