Friday, February 21, 2014

Ray's Reviews: The Ascendant by Drew Chapman and Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled 3 by David Cranmer and Elise Wright

If you're still trying to thaw out, here's a quick look at a pair of recent edgy releases. One's an exceptionally fast-paced thriller; the other offers an intriguing collection of taut, tough short stories by a variety of new authors.

"The Ascendant" by Drew Chapman (Simon & Schuster, $25) is a remarkable debut novel that's not easy to categorize. It's a tense techno-thriller with many political, cybernetic and financial aspects.

Set in today's tough economic climate or in the near future, Chapman introduces Garrett Reilly, a 26-year-old Wall Street bond-trading whiz-kid.

Reilly's got an unusual talent that's making his firm a lot of money -- he can see patterns in numbers. He notices that two hundred billion dollars of U.S. Treasury bonds are being sold off in a cleverly veiled manner by the Chinese.

He takes the information to his boss and mentor, Avery Bernstein, who worriedly calls in the feds. Reilly's life is about to change forever as the military gets involved, wanting Reilly's assistance in producing counter-measures and a counter-attack.

The novel is told from a variety of viewpoints and in different geographical areas; a few chapters are even set in a dark and dismal Detroit.

While it helps to have a knowledge of the financial aspects or technical trends, it's not required; this is just a nifty adrenalin-charged thriller that's tough to put down.

Chapman is an experienced writer on studio movies and directed the indie film "Standoff." This is the first book in a new series; TV rights have already been optioned.

"Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled 3" edited by David Cranmer and Elise Wright (Beat to a Pulp, $7.99) is a slim 105-page paperback collection of cutting-edge crime stories by nine different authors.

Most of these dark tales originally appeared in the BTAP webzine; there's considerable violence, noir overtones, nastiness and unhappy endings.

Patti Abbott's "Doe in the Headlights" is a gritty, graphic, slice-of-life tale set 150 miles northwest of Detroit. It features Delores (or Doe), a former waitress who must make some challenging, deadly, life-changing decisions.

The last three pages of the book offer information about the careers of the authors -- if you like a particular story, it's easy to find out what else may be available.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find these books and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

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