Monday, May 2, 2011
Russian Roulette by Austin Camacho
I have been very careful about reviewing self-published works. For a long time, I believed self-publishing was one step above vanity publishing. I now know better.
Why? Because I've been making an effort to read more self-published books and have found many to be as good as debut novels published by traditional publishers.
Recently, I read Russian Roulette by Austin Camacho. I picked up the book at a writers conference, flipped over to read the back blurbs and saw"Hannibal's Back." Back? I didn't know there was a Hannibal Jones, a private investigator in the D.C. area who gets involved in crimes. What else? This is billed as a thriller.
Camacho weaves a good tale, well written, with solid characters and a killer that, while not impossible to identify early, has enough duplicity to trick the casual reader.
The plot is straightforward. Hannibal Jones is "hired" by a Russian thug to help him get the woman he loves back. The thug threatens Hannibal's own girlfriend to put leverage on the investigator. Russian mobsters, multiple identities, changing loyalties, male dupes, strong female characters and building tension lead to a confrontation on Roosevelt Island. I'll leave most of the plot for the next reader to enjoy, so don't expect me to tell you how the book ends. It ends with a bang. Enough said.
Camacho turns many of his phrases in such a way that you want to stop and enjoy the images. "Hannibal wondered what the job description looked like for the position of thug. Did they have a union, have to update their resumes, hassle about their benefits?" Interesting thought, a thug union.
Like many self-published works, Russian Roulette could have benefited from tighter writing, but not by much. A strong editor would have removed extraneous words and made the story flow even faster.
Regardless of how this was published, it's a damned good read.