Ongoing series offer a reader the opportunity to see a character develop and grow over the course of many books, yet this isn't an easy objective to accomplish. The manner in which an author plots these changes and how they allow the reader to join the character on their journey can make or break, not only an individual book, but the series as a whole.
Ash McKenna is my kind of lead for a kick-ass book. He's a main character who's flawed, troubled by his past, and uncertain of his own future. He makes mistakes at every turn and is blind to the poisons that emanate onto those around him. In other words, he's a great series character who not only grows from novel to novel, but seems to have undergone a metamorphosis based upon the events to previous books. He doesn’t seem to be the same guy we met in New Yorked; he's darker, carries more baggage, and is more troubled by his own actions.
In South Village, Rob Hart has continues to pen genius books that put McKenna into situations where he always seems over his head, yet somehow manages to keep his nose above the water line and take one more breath. He finds himself in a hippy commune and, while trying to keep to himself, ends up involved in the hunt for the truth behind death of fellow commune member Crusty Pete. In typical McKenna fashion, misfortune lurks around every corner and violence is always a breath away.
The pacing in this book is set on full throttle. I love the way Hart allows readers to worm their way into the psyche of McKenna and see what makes him tick. It's more than just a walk in McKenna’s shoes, you feel as if you're circling the drain with him as he slowly sinks into paranoia, never knowing who to trust. Although he does find a somewhat kindred soul in his friend Aesop, you still get the feeling McKenna is a lone wolf who's always holding back parts of himself. The amateur PI books always seem to flow better when there is an engaging sidekick along for the rise, and Aesop fills the role nicely in this book.
Hart’s greatest strength is his ability to create a character who, while not exceptionally likable, is intriguing and deep. McKenna has a gravitational pull that will suck you in and spit you back out, exhausted from the journey, but begging for more. There is a dark future ahead for McKenna and I am invested in taking the journey with him. This is a strong addition to a strong series and well worth the read.