Preston, Luke - 'Dark City Blue'
DARK CITY BLUE is a gripping slice of Aussie noir from debut author Luke Preston, that will have you hooked from the first page. Violent and action-packed, the pace is as swift as the writing is sparse, in a true homage to the hard-boiled crime tradition, and the short snappy chapters carry you quickly through this tale of police corruption, paedophiles, and armed robbery.
Tom Bishop, our erstwhile hero, is a cop on a mission seeking to expose a very dark conspiracy involving his fellow police officers who are as a bent as a boomerang and ever so nasty with it. Bishop is an old-school cop, who has little time for official procedures and a very flexible attitude to exigent circumstances, regularly bowling in where others fear to tread and dispensing with bad guys left, right and centre. He gets the job done and is largely left to his own devices by his senior officers until he starts treading on the wrong toes, as he starts to uncover and investigate the pernicious actions of a corrupt group of police colleagues, or 'Justice', as they are known, leading to some very hairy moments for Bishop. Shot at, beaten, locked up and generally physically abused, Bishop, and those closest to him, cannot escape the wrath of 'Justice' and it soon becomes clear that there are few people that Bishop can trust, giving rise to a suspicion of everybody and a very bloody trail of bodies along the way.
This book runs on pure adrenaline as the pacing is exceptionally fast, and I would definitely concur with other reviewers that once you're hooked in, it is tremendously difficult to put down. The action sequences are deftly realised and genuinely edge of the seat, as very much in the manner of cinema action thrillers, there is a brilliant sense of each bloody shoot-out being maybe one too far for our cop hero and will he really make it to the end of the book? Aha..that would be telling! In terms of characterisation, Bishop is one of those guys that has you rooting for him from the start, having a good moral compass despite his own tough upbringing. He experiences a genuine sense of wounded pride that his fellow officers can act in such a despicable manner, feathering their own nests, and displaying dishonour to the credo of protect and serve. There is a nicely emotive side story involving him and his newly discovered teenage daughter, Alice, which also impacts on his single minded determination to avenge the death of another teenage girl, forced into sexual slavery. He's a genuine tough guy with a slightly melty centre, and definitely not a man to be trifled with as many find out to their cost throughout the course of the book.
So to sum up, a nifty little debut with a good central storyline, a natty use of dialogue, an engaging protagonist and more than enough action to keep those pages a-turning. Would thoroughly recommend this blood and bullets debut if you think you're hard enough to handle itů
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