“After a while it came to me. The hunger I felt was the overwhelming urge to kill the rest of them. That was it. Only their deaths would satisfy my deepest-felt need”- Selena by Greg Barth
The latest release from All Due Respect Books is by Greg Barth and it is the most flat out, kick-ass, balls-to-the-wall book I have read in the longest time. It contains two novellas that were previously self-published in two separate volumes and a previously unreleased novella. I had read the first novella just prior to it being removed from circulation and was anxiously awaiting the release of this collection. I am happy to say it was more than worth the wait.
Selena has got to be the toughest, grittiest, and most noir female lead I’ve ever encountered in any series I have read. She describes herself as “five-feet, four-inches tall and 98 pounds, (and) I can make little noise when I need to. I can also make a hell of a lot of noise when I want to”. In a recent chat I had with Barth, he summed up Selena in a manner that I cannot improve upon. He said, “The thing I would like to highlight is the spirit of Selena’s character- she seeks pleasure, an easy fun life, is almost completely amoral, and bent on self destruction. Yet, she handles pain well, refuses to roll over and die when she is wronged, and is willing to do the nasty things required to take down the worst men.”
Barth’s ability to allow her to grow and flourish as a character as his stories develop is one of the strongest points of this series. Selena is a tough-as-nails, down-on-her-luck, take-no-crap kind of lady and in the opening of the book she illegally gains possession of what she believes to be a music CD. As any lover of noir would guess the disc is not a music CD and the owners of the CD extract a heavy revenge on Selena for the theft, leaving her assaulted and near death. Selena regroups and swears revenge, and the book takes off like a bat out of hell at that point.
Being that the original publications were in novella form, this collection has three great storylines and three great dénouements. The stories run seamlessly and I loved how Selena gets more rugged, tougher, and more dedicated to destruction and self-preservation as the stories unfolded.
In my opinion, some of the keys to having a successful series are having a main character that develops and grows throughout the series, a storyline that grows with the character, secondary characters that allow the main character a chance to develop through growing relationships, and the ability to end each part of the series with an ending that is satisfying to the story, yet leaves the reader wondering when the next addition to the series will be forthcoming.
Well Barth must have had this checklist next to him as he wrote these novellas. Everything in the stories added to the growing tension, both internally within Selena and externally in the world Barth created for her. The bad guys were hard-core and vicious, yet the friends Selena makes on her journey were able to help Selena be seen through the lens of being sympathetic yet still maintain her semblance of being an independent bad ass. She developed skills that should certainly help her maintain her edge throughout future books. She learned how to handle two shotguns at once, how to become deadly with a bow and arrow, how to field dress deer for outdoor survival, and also how not to care who she kills when extracting revenge.
Selena is a must read for all fans of noir. It has darkness, depth, and depravity in spades. This book will put Greg Barth on every noir fans must read list and will help get All Due Respect Books the respect they deserve for being a publisher who is putting out some of the most insane and most noir books available today. I would go so far as to say I am begging you to pick up a copy. This offering deserves a wide audience and, in my opinion, is going to be one of the most talked about books of 2015 in the noir community. I kid you not…it is that great. So before you embarrass yourself when your friends start talking about the book and you haven’t read it, grab a copy and sink your teeth into a slice of noir pie….it’s hot, hot, hot.