Ash McKenna is one of the most engaging, flawed heroes to come into creation in who knows how long. In City of Rose, Rob Hart paints him with an artist’s eye and shows us his toughness and his vulnerability, and his quest to reconcile the two in a manner that proves Hart has his eye on becoming a master noir writer.
McKenna, who we initially met in Hart’s first novel, New Yorked, is tasked with attempting to help a stripper locate her lost daughter, Rose. Rose’s father has disappeared with her and few clues to her whereabouts were left behind. Ash follows the few clues he can unearth and soon finds himself immersed in a world of drugs, violence, and depravity.
Hart’s greatest strength as a writer is his ability to give the reader a glimpse of the humanity in McKenna. The reader can empathize with him because we all know what it means to question past decisions and wonder how things may have ended up differently if we’d chosen more wisely. McKenna is left with many demons because of his past decisions and he attempts to pacify these demons by making better choices in the present, yet he is caught in a viscous cycle of wondering if the decisions he is making now will lead to more torment down the road.
Hart has created a unique and relatable character and I welcome the opportunity to take further journeys with him. This is a great series with soul and depth and lots of potential. While McKenna is not quite an “everyday man”, his inner conflicts are those that seemly haunt us all and help raise this book into a book everyone can sink their teeth into.
This one is better than New Yorked and holy shit does that say a lot.
Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski.