This review is a little different to my previous reviews. Triple Shot is a collection of three novellas by three different authors all of them from New York. With that in mind, I will be reviewing each story individually, then giving the whole book and overall score. So with that in mind, here we go.
Thump Gun Hitched – Ross Klavan
Thump Gun Hitched tells the story of two detectives on a task force. The story doesn’t give a great deal of clarity as to the purpose of this task force, just that one of the detectives, Bobby Dane, sells the team out to a bunch of gun smugglers. Rather than get arrested for it, he turns on the smugglers helping take them down. From this point the story seems to gain speed. A series of events occurs leading to Dane taking the fall for a negligent death he didn’t cause, and going to prison.
While entertaining enough, this is where the story lost a little direction for me. It jumped around between Dane and his time in prison, and the solitary life his old partner Haran spends moving from place to place around the country, finally settling in the desert close to the Mexican border.
The story really does jump around a fair amount, which means we miss a lot of things that go on. We find out Dane meets the lead smuggler he double crossed in prison, but not a lot more of his time is covered. Then we discover that he has been released, and has taken a job in Mexico that he was offered before parole.
Somehow Harran becomes caught up in things, under the premise that he his helping find Dane. It turns out Dane is not missing, but is under siege in a small town of outlaws that he runs, with the gun smugglers ready to pounce. There are some good action sequences here but these positives are almost undone by some issues with the ending. This story isn’t by any stretch bad (see my previous book review) but it just felt slightly cliched at the end. Overall, an okay effort on this one.
Rating: 3 Stars
Smoked – Tim O’Mara
I really liked this story. First off, It’s a first person narration. Where books like The Last Policeman were first person, that one followed the lead character in almost real time, this one is a reflection of what has happened, leading up to the present moment in time.
This tale follows a relatively small time drug dealer. As things start, he is relaying the story of how he broke into the house of his ex-wife to retrieve his hidden stash of meth, alcohol and money. Unfortunately the empty house isn’t so empty – his ex-wife’s new partner is home sick, and catches him in the act.
What ensues is an almost comical sequence of events that takes the two men on a wild ride. In completing the deal he was retrieving his meth for, the dealer and new “business partner” end up, through bravado, offering a deal ten times the size in number of hours’ time. This takes the two leading men on an almost farcical story from one issue to the next. Things seem to be going well until their buyer gets raided. Drug dealing leads to a second job to pay off the suppliers, running illicit cigarettes and guns.
This novella is a fun ride for the lead characters with ups and downs the whole way through. The first person narrative is also an aspect of the story that I enjoyed. It keeps the story interesting seeing the sequence of events from the perspective of a defined character. The only negative here was right at the end. Because this story was told in the first person and in real time, the reader doesn’t get to see exactly how the story ends – it just gets left up in the air.
Rating: 3 Stars
Twist of Fate – Charles Salzburg
The third and final tale in this little compilation of short stories is my favourite. It follows Trish Sullivan, a small town news anchor, with big ambitions to move up in the world. She spends her time looking for her big break, while covering stories on the local mafia. A story comes across her desk regarding a woman serving time for the murder of her husband and two daughters.
Trish starts to look into whether the woman is as guilty as the world believes she is. Over time, Sullivan starts investigating the case from start to finish, assessing the crime scene, talking to witnesses and key figures involved in the case. As things start to look more and more likely that this is a case of mistaken identity and the woman in prison is an innocent person.
As the story unfolds more evidence is uncovered leading to a retrial. The outcome completely overturns the original trial, making the widow a national celebrity overnight; the nation’s sweetheart who could do no wrong. But in all the celebration and jollity at her release, things aren’t right, causing Trish to have doubts.
This story ends in a bit of a whirlwind about-turn, which seems fitting for a story of crossing, double crossing, lies, deception and murder. Twist of Fate lives up to it’s name in the ending, and is filled with twists all throughout. For my money, this is the strongest story in the collection.
Rating: 4 Stars
Taking this little collection as a whole, Triple Shot is a fun read. It’s not the best book I have ever read, but the trio of authors show enough talent to make their stories entertaining and worth the read.