Sunday, November 27, 2016

RIDGERUNNER by Rusty Barnes

All things become clearer in sunlight.
Ridgerunner is a piece of country grit from 280 Steps, in which a part-time wildlife conservation deputy in rural Pennsylvania gets embroiled in a bullet-ridden feud with the Pittmans, the local family of outlaws. Initially I was excited with the prospect of having our hero, Matt Rider, stumble through the book with gunshot wounds and a broken ankle in a cast. I thought this would add an extra layer to the action and the tension that I was pumped to read about. But this plot element either backfired or wasn't used to it's potential because Matt spent a lot of the novel just waiting around. That was my biggest problem with this one: there is almost no urgency. There are serious threats to Matt's family by villains who are largely unseen and can pop up at anytime, but yet Matt somehow finds time to go shopping and sit on the couch. He doesn't even really seem all that pressed about the situation he's in. There are many parts in this book where narrative urgency comes to a total halt and I felt no sense of real danger through most of it.
I wanted blood, and I wanted it now, without my uniform and all the bullshit that went with it.
I also loved the idea of keeping the villains fairly mysterious in order to build their reputation along with the reader's anticipation. But then this build-up didn't pay-off at all and it turns out that the Pittmans are lightweights in a big way, with a climactic shoot-out that's instantly forgettable.  I would normally call the end of this novel "anti-climactic," but then again, it's not really a letdown because nothing really happened in rest of the book either.


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