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I Belong


Review: Hired Gun by James R. Tuck

Hired GunTitle: Hired Gun

Author: James R. Tuck

Genre: Mystery/Crime

Series: Culvert City Crime Files (Book #1)

Publication Date: August 26, 2013

Format: Paperback, 72 Pages

ISBN-10: 1492256048 (CreateSpace)

ISBN-13: 978-1492256045 (CreateSpace)

Reviewed by: Steph

Synopsis:

FROM THE AUTHOR WHO BROUGHT YOU THE PULSE-POUNDING DEACON CHALK SERIES!!!!

Culvert City, a place where bad people do bad things to each other. A hard place, a tough place, it’s Killtown USA, Fist City, Murderville America, whatever you want to call it. Culvert City doesn’t have a “bad side” of town, every square inch of the place is strychnine nasty and terminal as cancer.

Crime bosses, crooked cops, hitmen, ladies of the night, thugs, petty thieves, junkies, dirty politicians, gun thugs . . . every bad seed of every rotten apple lives here.

Good people who live here too.

They’re called victims.

This is Crime fiction done right. Hard as concrete and twice as cold. Eight hard-boiled yarns of wrong-doing.

Quick & Dirty: A compilation of very short stories that are largely hit or miss.

Opening Sentence: Whatta ya have?

Excerpt: No

The Review:

This is a collection of very short stories that all take place in the same city. It’s definitely not a city you would want to stay in for long, and the stories do a good job of showcasing that. I’m not always a fan of super short stories, but a lot of these ended up being very entertaining, although there were also a couple that fell short of the mark.

Big Tony Likes a Show – 2.5

Not a whole lot happens here. The story involves a gangster and a hitman sitting in a fast food drive thru and talking to each other. That’s pretty much it. I wasn’t a fan of the lack of quotation marks when people were speaking, but that feature didn’t make it hard to tell when conversation was going on. I knew what was going to happen from the beginning, so that may have been why I felt rather underwhelmed.

Respect – 3 stars

This would be considered more along the lines of flash fiction rather than a short story, with the length being just slightly over a page. What there is here though is good. I thought it was well written and, for as brief as it was, actually gave me a pretty good idea of the type of person the “main character” was and I had a pretty clear image in my head of how the scene was set up. Well done.

Cancerstick – 4 stars

This story features the same hitman from Big Tony Likes a Show, as he has just finished interrogating a Senator about suspected child molestation. The atmosphere is set up very well here, and, as with the previous story, I had a very clear image in my head of the characters and their movements. The conversation was engaging, and while I had a good idea how it was going to end, I found myself curious to see how we were going to get there. Very well done for such a short story.

Caught – 5 stars

This is another piece of flash fiction that perfectly captures the setting/mood of the story in less than 150 words. I can’t really give specifics since the story is so short, but I thought the tone and characters were perfect.

Security Check – 4 stars

Not a lot happens here, but I enjoyed the story all the same. Our favorite hitman is going through security at an airport. He’s picked for a random security check, and because of this, we get a glimpse into how a hitman packs for a business trip. It’s a very interesting (and potentially scary) look into what seemingly ordinary items can be used for murderous means.

Teachable Moment – 3 stars

This is only 60 words, so in keeping with that theme, this review will be brief. I found this to be clever and funny. It’s not trying to be great literature, but it’s entertaining for what it is.

Boots On – 2.5 stars

I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of this one. It does what the others do, creating vivid imagery and helping me set the scene in my head, but something still fell flat. It’s possible I just wasn’t interested in the subject matter, a man getting ready to go to the trailer next door and confront the guy who’s been “making eyes” at his girl. I found myself just wanting to get to the end, and not because I was eager to find out what happened. That’s never a good sign.

Treatment – 3.5 stars

Another story featuring the hitman. This time he’s trying to find a missing person. This story is a bit darker than the others featuring him, with graphic imagery that leaves no doubt about what he’s capable of. The story’s told well, and I found myself interested in what was going on. I wouldn’t mind seeing a longer story featuring this character.

Notable Scene:

“Don’t throw stones, Senator.” He slid off the edge of the table and stood up, right hand slipping into his pocket. The pinky was missing, severed after the middle knuckle. It was all the Senator could see. His observation was confirmed as the hand came out holding a straight razor. A flick of the wrist flashed it open, the edge running with a deadly gleam.

The man stepped closer.

“Wait, wait, wait. You said you weren’t going to kill me.” The Senator leaned away sharply, jerking the chair he was in. “You said that if I told you everything you’d let me live! You said!”

The pinkyless hand flashed downward.

skull3

FTC Advisory: CreateSpace provided me with a copy of Hired Gun. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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