Cisco by James W. White #bookreview #Cisco @Hmwd6 @Incusus @ADenBleyker15 #DarkPassagesPublishing #IndieCrimeCrawl

Hi and welcome to my first #IndieCrimeCrawl review! The Indie Crime Crawl week is an initiative of Jo Perry, Fahrenheit Press author of the Rose & Charlie series, and Eric Beetner. #IndieCrimeCrawl will be full of special offers from publishers and reviews and guest posts on blogs, so keep an eye out for the hashtag, share the indie love, and check out the lovely indie publishers listed below.

Earlier this year I got to know indie publisher Fahrenheit Press, and with it, one of its brilliant authors, Ariana D. Den Bleyker. I fell in love with Ariana’s writing and I started to appreciate the novella as an art form. When she contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing a novella she’s publishing, I didn’t hesitate for a second! I know what great taste she has so of course I wanted to be part of that! To be sure, Ariana is not “just” an author and a poet, she’s also relaunching the crime imprint part of her old press, Dark Passages Publishing, and Cisco, the reason we’re all here today, is its return novella. What better time to take a closer look at this than during the #IndieCrimeCrawl!

Cisco is a dark crime novella (what did you expect from a publisher called Dark Passages Publishing) about a kidnapping. The setting is the San Francisco Bay area.

Typical of the novella, there are no words wasted, there’s no wading into the story carefully, no dipping in your toe, it’s diving in at the deep end with a Tarzan yell. Right from the start you get an excellent feel for who you’re dealing with, and I can tell you right now: it’s the stuff of nightmares! Move over Freddy Krueger, here’s Cisco! Cisco has a cleft palate, rotting teeth and gums and only half a tongue (don’t ask) and to boot his face is covered with prison tattoos, because well why not. He gives the impression of a disturbed mind, and I’m not saying he’s quite right in the head, but he’s not stupid, he’s actually very intelligent, and that actually makes matters worse, because the only thing worse than a criminal is a smart criminal.

Countering Cisco’s violent nature is Detective Helen McCurda. When the newest member of Cisco’s merry band of associates kidnaps young Henry, McCurda is the leading detective. She’s been selected over other, more seasoned, possibly more qualified officers so she feels a sharp need to prove her worth and she’s going above and beyond, and then some, to do so. Helen is a fab character, well-rounded, despite the few pages James White had to create her, he even managed to squeeze in a bit of a love interest.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. The search for Henry is a wild one, and the whole thing packs quite a lot of punch, seriously, it felt like a punch in the stomach (but, you know, in a good way 😁). Some very harrowing scenes and a finale that is so closed and so open at the same time that it left me utterly flabbergasted.

If noir is your bag, and you’re at all into novellas, I recommend you check out Cisco!

Many thanks to Ariana for the kind invitation, I was honoured to read this ahead of publication. All opinions are of course my own and I was not paid to give them.

Cisco is out on 1 August and can be bought directly from Dark Passages Publishing, you can pre-order now!

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