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Review: The Best of 2017

Another year down and another year full of great books from great authors. Here is a list of my Top 10 books from 2017. I looked at the reviews I posted this year for each book and took some blurbs I feel encompass the best aspect from the book, the writer, or a little of both.

Numbers 3 – 10 (in no particular order):

Down on the Street by Alec Cizak
This slice of noir has a great storyline and tight editing which allows Cizak to flex his writing muscles and showcase his ability to keep it real. The plot gets pushed along at a rapid pace and the reality of the situation (his main character) finds himself in pulls the reader like a shot of heroin. The characters are unlikable, perfectly placed into the world Cizak creates. 

Everglade by Greg Barth
The vibe to this finely written finale is fitting with its desire to bring closure to this saga that has manifested into one of the best noir series ever written. I prefer my books to be packed with as much violence and depravity as possible, but Barth knew exactly how to handle this book to satisfy his fans, yet do justice to this series in a manner that is satisfying, and most importantly, true to the essence of who Selena is. It boils down to trying to find love in a violent world; love for others who love us for who we are, love for others who look up to us, and the love of ourselves, flaws and all. But when the odds are stacked up against you, as they are against Selena, sometimes your best intentions may not be enough.

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
Harper has blessed us with a book that will kick your ass in a way that will leave you begging for more. She Rides Shotgun is gritty, unflinching, and full of heart and soul.  It is tender, yet rugged. From prison gangs, death sentences, and drug mules, to creating family bonds where there were none, loving the only way you know how to love, and accepting the love someone is prepared to give you, even if it’s not the love you thought you were looking for, this book covers a wide scope and does it all with a poet’s touch. I think this book is going to garner a lot of attention for Harper and it is well deserved. This novel does it all right.

Give Up the Dead by Joe Clifford
For a book to be a must read, it needs to have a few things going for it. A good plot, believable dialogue and perhaps most importantly, have characters a reader can relate to in some capacity. To me that doesn’t mean a character you 100% agree with or sympathize with, instead I mean a character that in some manner you ‘get”. Maybe a character who regrets the choices they made that pushed a former lover away or a character who aches for more time with their child. Sometimes it is a character who longs to do something in life that reminds them despite all the poor choices they make thy can find some semblance of salvation. If you find yourself agreeing with my sentiments, then Joe Clifford’s new Jay Porter book, Give Up The Dead, is going to end up on your must read list.

American Static by Tom Pitts
It is always a pleasure to bear witness to an author grow with each book they publish. Novellas become novels, characters become more fleshed out, plots become more multidimensional, and their books just have deeper hooks that seem to pierce your soul in a different way, as if the hook now has a barb that leaves a piece inside you after the book is over. This is strong uncut shit here and it’s highly recommended. 

Fatboy by Paul Heatley
There are few things I love more than reading a noir book that has all the necessary components to be a kick-ass book. Books that have plots driven by action, characters that come to life with believability, and dialogue that rings true are essential components for all books, but when they're embedded in a noir book that has crime, grit, and darkness, these books suck me in. Every once in a while, I get the pleasure of reading a noir story that has all these pieces, but also mixes in heart, believable emotional conflicts, and leaves you feeling you would react the same way if you were in their shoes. Although hard to find, these books are the types of books that elevate authors into my “Must Read” group of authors. I am pleased to report that… Paul Heatley has outdone himself.

Race to the Bottom by Chris Rhatigan
If you have read any of Chris Rhatigan’s books than you know he offers a lean, stripped approach to his books; the writing contains only enough to drive the plot forward and the extraneous, dull parts are surgically removed leaving only vital muscular prose behind.  This surgical precision is what makes Rhatigan a must-read author whose books fit so nicely under the All Due Respect banner….Once again Rhatigan pens a sure-fire winner and All Due Respect publishes yet another gem. Both of those statements seem par for the course from where I sit. I am eagerly waiting the next Rhatigan book and hope the wait isn’t too long.

A New and Different Kind of Pain by Daniel Vlasaty
I try to keep my reviews clean and I try to find words to describe my emotions on a book that aren’t of the four-letter variety, but I need to make an exception for the book I just finished reading: Holy shit, I just got my ass kicked by Daniel Vlasaty….This  book is an insanely great slice of hard boiled noir. After reading this I can honestly say I may have already read the best book I will read this year. It is killer with no filler type of good.  

Top 2: I found it hard to pick which of these two books I liked the most, so they are co-winners in my eyes. Bassoff has been a writing God in my eyes for a long while and Vlasaty put himself into my pantheon of writing Gods this year. Both of these are kick-ass works of art. If you missed either one of them, do yourself a favor and grab a copy pronto.

The Blade This TIme by Jon Bassoff
Have you ever imagined what it must be like to rate and review one of the great Holy books? How does a mere mortal weigh in on the creation and content of something drafted by great minds that are clearly other worldly? How could you find the proper words to share the importance and awe-inspiring feelings a book like this illicit in you? I don’t want to seem sacrilegious comparing any book to the Holy books of major religions, but I find myself in this unenviable spot when trying to review Jon Bassoff’s new release, The Blade This Time. This book is a blue print on a mind slipping further into the depths of insanity, obsession, and immortality. In other words, this book is now a holy book in my library of depraved and dark fiction.

Amphetamine Psychosis by Daniel Vlasaty
After reading his biographical work of art, Amphetamine Psychosis, I am officially placing Daniel Vlasaty on my Mount Rushmore of writing Gods. I can’t even begin to articulate how well written this book is. Due to its in-your-face representation of drug use and abuse, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it’s more a bitter cup of espresso if anything; it’s a quick shot which burns going down and leaves you wide eyed with your nervous system twitching from what you just put it through.
The manner in which Vlasaty strips himself and his soul bare and finds a way to let you into his world of pain and anguish is a thing of beauty. It’s simplistic in nature, yet the depth that his words cut into you is a dichotomy that few writers can accomplish, let alone master in the manner Vlasaty has. His prose is short and concise on every page, yet each page leaves the reader exhausted from the emotional journey they have taken with Vlasaty as their guide.

I would like to take a moment to thanks all the authors and publishers who give me the chance to preview the many titles I ask for. I take the obligation to share the positive aspects of their hard work very seriously. I embrace my role as a typical reader sharing his thoughts on books he loves. No fluff, no pressure from the writers or publishers; just an honest attempt to spread the good word on good books. Thanks to all who take the time to read my reviews as well. God bless and let’s hope 2018 is a great one for everyone.