Thursday, May 9, 2019

Review of August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones (2017, Soho Crime)

August Snow has returned to Detroit after a year of travel in the wake of winning an unfair dismissal case against the police, bringing down a corrupt mayor and several officers in the process. He’s now back living in Mexicantown in the house he grew-up in with his Mexican mother and black father and investing his $12 million pay out in revitalising his street. Shortly after arriving he’s summoned to the home of Eleanore Paget, the prickly oligarch of a wealth management bank. When he was a cop, Snow investigated the murder-suicide of her husband and a young woman. Now she wants him to look into the strange happenings in her bank. Snow declines and three days later Paget is dead, supposedly by suicide. Despite warnings not to look into Paget’s death, Snow finds himself drawn to the case, quickly discovering an international criminal conspiracy and tangling with the FBI. Despite the obvious dangers, he’s never been one to back out of a challenge and he wants justice whatever the cost.

August Snow is the first book in a new series featuring an ex-marine sniper, ex-Detroit cop turned vigilante. Independently wealthy from a large pay-out from a wrongful dismal case, Snow is trying to rebuild his life and his neighbourhood. In this outing he starts an investigation into the death of Eleanore Paget, the owner of a wealth management bank, who dies three days after he was summoned by her to look into what was happening in the bank. It’s clear that strange forces are at work inside the bank and that the perpetrators have no problem protecting their interests through violence, and that the FBI also has the bank in its sights. So starts Snow’s quest to take-on the bad guys, tangle with the FBI, and further piss-off his former colleagues, all the while eating gourmet meals and building a local community in Mexicantown. The result is a vigilante tale of a compassionate man waging a mini-war on an international criminal gang, aided by Paget’s ex-Army security guard, a local ex-Robin Hood, a shadowy master-hacker, and an ambitious FBI agent. By the end, a lot of weaponry has been used and the body-count for the baddies is high despite the odds being in their favour. Taken within that frame – a kind-of blockbuster crime thriller where the good guy has a bunch of specialist skills, knows ‘good criminals’ that will use their skills for the greater good, and the baddies badly underestimate their foe – its an entertaining read, with a nicely constructed plot and plenty of action. August Snow is a strong lead character, as is the city of Detroit, with Jones creating a strong sense of place. Overall, an engaging tale of compassion and vengeance.

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