The noir genre and I have an uneasy relationship. On the one hand, pitch black noir can entertain like no other. The characters are always in varying degrees of damnation, the violence is brutal, the alcohol/drug abuse is ubiquitous and nothing about the plot is as it seems.


On the other hand, there are certain noir stereotypes that never go away. If you've read one, you've read them all. There's the PI with the tortured past who drinks too much. There's the female in need of saving from something. There's the corrupt cops, politicians, lawyers and whatnot. There's the grim, forboding tone to the writing.


Vincent Zandri's "Godchild," the second in the Keeper Marconi series, has all of these things. Keeper is a PI with a tortured past who drinks too much. He gets hired to break a woman out of a Mexican prison. Because of the involvement of corrupt officials, things go haywire pretty quick.


If this was any other writer, I probably wouldn't've made it through all of "Godchild." The noir cliches were piled on thick. But this is Vincent Zandri. There's something about his writing style that I admire. It's the brisk pace of the action. It's knowing when to slow down and evaluate what's going on in the characters' heads. It's the way a backstory critical to the plot is slowly revealed throughout the novel.


Simply put, "Godchild" is full of noir cliches. But there's a big difference between well-done noir cliches and using a stereotype in place of the creative process. Zandri (who I made me a fan with "The Remains") is definitely the former. His writing has a voice, which is the most difficult and hardest to define thing for a writer to create.


I mentioned this is the second in the Keeper Marconi series. I hadn't read the first, "The Innocent," but that didn't matter. Readers will have no problem catching up. In all honesty, I bought "Godchild" first because the price dropped to 99 cents in May. Just my luck, "The Innocent" came down to 99 cents for June. I'll be reading that one next.

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