Wilson, the Mob enforcer who appeared in Darwin’s Nightmare (2008) and Grinder (2009), is not a happy man. No surprise there—he’s always been a bit of a glass-half-empty kind of guy—but this time he has got a good reason. Some crooked cops are using him as a lure to nab some very bad people, and Wilson can think of only one way out of the predicament: to pit the cops and their prey against each other, letting them take each other out. Sounds like a good plan, but can he pull it off and somehow manage to stay alive? Knowles’ novels echo writers who have come before him—Richard Stark, for example, or Jim Thompson—but they’re not imitations. Wilson isn’t Stark’s Parker, and the author’s bare-bones prose doesn’t sound like Thompson’s. And the setting certainly freshens up the proceedings, too: you don’t see a lot of noirish crime dramas set in Hamilton, Ontario. For noir fans, a must-read.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, October 2010