Sunday, March 1, 2015
Michigan Roll by Tom Katonis
Ex-con and professional poker player Timothy Waverly travels to Traverse City, Michigan for a break…and falls into bed with a seductress named Midnight. She’s an out-of-towner, too, there to rescue her self-destructive brother, who has stupidly ripped off a fortune in cocaine from a vicious Chicago mobster. Now she is being chased by Shadow, a hemorrhoidal hitman who gleefully specializes in torture and rape, and Gleep, his muscle-bound henchman. The odds are stacked against her, but Waverly is a gambler who knows how to play them…
Review by Rochelle Weber:
When I was in my first semester of writing at Columbia College, Chicago, the men in my stories were too polite, so my professor made me read a book called Last Exit to Brooklyn, by Herbert Selby, Jr. Much of it was stream-of-consciousness profanity. If you aren’t familiar with stream-of-consciousness writing, it has no punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure or paragraphs.
Itsasthoughyourewritingadreamjusthewayyousawitandifyouwantanevenbetterexampletry The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. The loosest I was able to get was having my pipe-fitter hero’s buddies meet him for breakfast the day after he meets my heroine and the conversation went something like:
“Hey John, how was last night? That was some hot piece you left with.”
“The Lady I left with was very nice, and it ain’t none a your business.”
It just about killed me to call my heroine a “piece,” to use the word “ain’t” and to use a double-negative.
If a writer came to me now and said, “Rochelle, I want to write a realistic thug,” this is the series of books to which I would refer him or her.
I didn’t like most of the people in this book. Waverly, the “hero,” makes his living by ripping off people at card tables, a dubious skill he honed as a way of preserving his sanity while in solitary confinement in prison. Clay Clemmons is a rich-kid drug dealer who decides to rip off half a million in drugs from his boss in Traverse City, Michigan, not realizing the drugs are really the property of the Chicago mob. He calls his sister, Holly (Midnight to her closest friends), to come and rescue him. Shadow and Gleep, the thugs tasked with retrieving the mob’s drugs decide to flush him out by grabbing Midnight. Waverly has some redeeming qualities. He steps in and rescues Midnight when Shadow and Gleep accost her in the parking lot of an Indian casino outside of Traverse City. Midnight is a Princess in every sense of the word. Beautiful, entitled—she assumes Waverly will simply continue to help her because crooks her well-manicured finger at him. And he does. Along the way, a lot of people die horrible deaths. The men in this book think and speak almost entirely in profanity. Women don’t have names. They aren’t even “pieces.” They’re the c-word or “snatch.”
Yet, these characters are deeply drawn. There’s a reason each of them turned out the way they did. They have back-stories. Despite my distaste for them, I kept reading. Right up to the cliff-hanger ending. Yes, this was Book One of a series, so it didn’t quite end. Part of me wants to say, life doesn’t quite end, either. But apparently there are more books that continue the story.
If you’re looking for a romance with nice people and a happily ever after, this book is not for you. If you’re looking for a huge dose of the seedy side of life occupied by thugs and realistic mafia hitmen, then the Waverly series is a great example. If your heroes are too polite and you need to learn how to write more realistic thugs, here’s your textbook. Despite the fact that I didn’t really like this book, I have to admire its craftwork. That’s why I gave it four roses.
Length: 304 Pages
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