Hard-boiled crime novels are a bit of a departure from the books I have been reviewing lately, but I have read the genre in the past, and overall, I believe that Andy Rausch’s collection of novellas, Riding Shotgun, does a much better job of making the reader think than any other work on the shelves today.
What I Liked About the Book
Macabre humor. A book this dark needs comic relief to stop the reader from getting too weighted down emotionally with all the death and violence that is common in crime fiction. The humor in Riding Shotgun tends to be more macabre in nature, but it does its’ job and allows the reader to have a few chuckles along the way.
The order of the 3 novellas that make up the book. The darkest novella, with little or no humor, is “Riding Shotgun,” and it sits in between the two stories which, for me, had at least a handful of chuckles in them. This ordering of the novellas works well and is significant for the overall readability as well as for developing the different themes that ran throughout.
Important themes run through all 3 stories. This is a book, in which, what themes you take away from it will be determined by your mindset going into it. It tackles a few hot button topics such as guns and religion as well as touching on the moral issue of what price is too high to pay for something important to you. The main characters in each of the stories pays the ultimate price for something vital to them but do you, the reader, feel it was worth it?
You can get much further with a kind word and a gun then you can with a kind word alone ~ Al Capone
The language. It is very raw and very crude, but Rausch’s writing would have been insincere without it being this way. It is in no way gratuitous, which I often find is the case with many stories. It is just genuine to the characters and to the situations.
What I Wish About the Reading Experience
The dialect. The dialect is a bit too much in the first and last stories. It slowed down the flow of the story and did not always ring true – sounding more like a parody than actuality.
To Read or Not to Read
If you have an interest in stories about the mob or crime books in general, I think you will love this book. But, overall, I do believe there is something here for everybody. Be warned, though, there are no happy endings.