Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baby Shark

Capital Crime Press, 2006, 978-0-9776276-9-1, 270 pages.

Baby Shark is a revenge and recovery story set in Texas in the 1950s and a terrific story in the hard-boiled school. I first read about it on The Gumshoe Review. When it didn't show up in local book stores I ordered it. I also ordered the sequel, Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues and glad I did since it saved me time getting it.

At seventeen, Kristin Van Dijk sees her father murdered in a Texas bar by a motor cycle gang and is then brutally beaten and raped. The owner of the bar, a Chinese-American named Henry Chin is shot and left for dead. He pulls Kristin from a fire set to cover-up the crime. Henry's son was also killed by the bikers. When Henry finds that someone with influence has managed to get the investigation closed, he and Kristen begin planning their private war against the bikers. Along the way they find help from: an ex-cop private eye named Otis who keeps his .45 handy and isn't adverse to taking preemptive action; a psychotic Korean War veteran and small arms expert; and a former military close-quarters combat instructor. You also get really nasty bad guys, a corrupt cop, and a waitress with a heart of gold.

The story and characters are well developed and the pacing pulls you along. I appreciated the care Fate took to set up the action. The narration is written in the first person from Kristin's point of view and has terrific hard-boiled dialog like

Bear took that stunned look of recognition directly to hell – along with two slugs in his heart.

If you like hard-boiled stories, you can't help but go "Yea!" when you read a line like that.

I recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a lethal teenager with a grudge and much (justifable) extra-legal bloodshed.