Monday, April 6, 2015

RUTHLESS by John Rector

This new book became conveniently available right in the middle of my mini-binge of some of John Rector's great books. I received an advanced copy of this upcoming novel through NetGalley for an honest review. I've been pretty excited about Rector, who writes tense noir tales that recall the classics in the genre. If he was writing back in the 50's and 60's, his work would totally be published by Gold Medal, Ace, or Signet. This latest novel, Ruthless, with it's case of mistaken identity and ticking clock, would fit right in with Cornell Woolrich's work. 
Nick White is broke and recently dumped by his wife, so he's drinking his sorrows away in his local bar, while taking shelter from the rain. Then a sexy blonde fatale in black walks in, mistakes him for a hitman, drops a large sum of money and a picture of the beautiful target on his lap and walks out. Now, not only is the real hitman after him for the dough, but Nick's conscience gets the best of him and he's in a race against time to save the girl in the photo before it's too late.

It's a great set-up that is just ripe for tension and suspense, and for some of it Rector delivers as usual! But there are some narrative decisions made that slow down the urgency and weaken the ticking clock element. And the third act reveals were a bit disappointing to me and the narrative started to fall apart a little at that point. The simpler, more narrowly-focused scope of his other books like The Cold Kiss and Lost Things worked better for me than the choices here. But Rector's usual tight and urgent writing style is on display here, and I'm still excited to continue reading the rest of the author's work.

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