Sunday, 29 March 2015

GUEST REVIEW: Federales by Christopher Irvin - Reviewed by Kit Power

I am very pleased to share with you all the first guest review on the blog.

This one comes from author, blogger, musician and all round bloody good guy, Kit Power. If you haven’t already, then you need to check out a couple of Kit’s books, Lifeline and also The Loving Husband and The Faithful Wife.

Kit also has a monthly column he writes for Ginger Nuts of Horror and this is well worth checking out.

I also must publicly pass on a personal thanks to Kit. A few months ago he recognised something in my reviewing and put his neck on the line for me and contacted Jim McCleod who runs GNOH. Jim very graciously gave me a chance and took me on.

If it hadn’t been for Kit taking it upon himself to contact Jim and mention me, and Jim taking me on, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

Thanks for having faith in what I do Kit. I owe you some beer.

Genre: Noir / Thriller
Publisher: One Eye Press
Publication Date: 4th March 2014
Pages: 126


‘Federales’ concerns Marcos, a federal police officer working in Mexico City, desperately trying to stay ahead of the corruption and violence. Not a hero. Just a working man trying to make it in an increasingly bleak and desperate situation.

Irvin does a superb job in invoking Mexico. I've never been, so cannot speak to the authenticity of the details, but it certainly felt real to this English gringo – in plain, unfussy prose, the claustrophobic humidity and edge-of-poverty living is vividly evoked. So too the internal desperation and frailty of our protagonist. The alcoholic cop on the edge – wife recently left him, yet – is a staple of noir, of course. Still, it's classic for a reason, and Irvin does a great job presenting the vulnerability of Marcos, the sense of an essentially decent person just worn down beyond the point of no return by brutal circumstance.

The pacing I found surprisingly leisurely considering the overall length of the story, but it's a savvy choice, because it gives Marcos and his situation room to breathe, to sweat. As he's forced to leave the city, and takes on his new assignment, we find ourselves dreading along with him the outcome. Irvin does a superb job of gradually turning the screw, increasing the stress with each page. Working faithfully within the conventions of the genre, he nonetheless finds was to surprise, thrill, and shock. It's a bleak and bloody tale, befitting the subject matter, and I appreciate the lack of pulled punches. If you're looking for Stallone/Cobra style revenge fantasies, move along. But if you're looking for gritty, well written noir with heart, a conscience, and an unflinching eye, you could do a lot worse.

It's an impressive novella, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

General rating:

★★★★ Kit gives this a 4 stars. Must be good cause this man doesn't post it if he doesn't like it

You can buy Federales here:

Book Synopsis:

Mexican Federal Agent Marcos Camarena dedicated his life to the job. But in a country where white knights die meaningless deaths, martyred in a hole with fifty other headless bodies in the desert, corruption is not an attribute but a scale; no longer a stigma but the status quo.

When Marcos's life is threatened, he leaves law enforcement and his life in Mexico City behind for a coastal resort town until an old friend asks him to look after an outspoken politician, a woman who knows cartel violence all too well. Despite his best efforts, Marcos can't find it in his heart to refuse, and soon finds himself isolated on the political front lines of the war on drugs. Inspired by true events, Federales is a story of survivors' compulsive devotion to a cause in the face of ever-darkening circumstances.

Christopher Irvin has traded all hope of a good night's sleep for the chance to spend his mornings writing dark and noir fiction. He is the author of Federales and Burn Cards, as well as short stories featured in several publications, including Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp, Needle, and Shotgun Honey. He lives with his wife and son in Boston, Massachusetts.

You can see more of Christopher at his website.

Christopher’s author page can be found here.

Kit Power lives and writes in Milton Keynes, and insists he's fine with that. His short dark fiction has appeared in many venues, including Splatterpunk Magazine, the 'At Hells Gate II' charity anthology and 'Widowmakers: The James Newman Benefit Anthology', and he has a novella out with Black Beacon Books. He's also self published a non-supernatural horror novella, called 'Lifeline', and his debut novel 'GodBomb!' should be arriving in the spring. He also writes a monthly column called 'My Life In Horror' for the Gingernuts Of Horror website.

You can see more of Kit at his website.

Kit’s author page can be found here.

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