What comes to mind when the term “hard-boiled crime fiction” is uttered? Perhaps visions of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe or Mike Hammer come alive. Tough, hard-nosed private investigators who will solve a case no matter what. Bound by a personal code of honor which others may neither appreciate nor understand. A unique sense of morality backed up by an acid wit. This will all definitely ring a bell if you have had the good fortune to meet Boss MacTavin in Seattle Red by author Reb MacRath. For lovers of top-notch, hard-boiled crime fiction and gritty detectives, get ready to add the “Boss” to your list of perennial favorites!
Seattle Red is actually the fourth book in the Boss MacTavin Action Mystery series. In this tale, Boss travels to Seattle to take on what should be a quick and easy case. A lone security guard has been slain and Boss has been hired by the guard’s widow to find the killer. However, in typical Reb MacRath style, we soon discover that there is absolutely nothing “simple” about this case!
Upon his arrival Boss MacTavin quickly finds himself up against a ruthless Organized Retail Crime outfit. Their tentacles are everywhere and they are both clever and cold-blooded. Their trademark is also all over this murder case. On a virtual collision course with this syndicate, Boss realizes that the rules of the game have changed. He proceeds to form his own crack team to help him tackle these seemingly overwhelming odds. However, the real question is …which side will ultimately come out on top? Could the fourth book in the Boss MacTavin series inevitably be his last?
There are many aspects to this novel which make it quite exceptional in my opinion. The plot is certainly relentless and there is just non-stop action. Indeed, twists and turns appear around every corner and keep the reader continually guessing about what will come next. Nevertheless, while the exciting and engaging nature of the book is wonderful- it is so much more than that. It is a very intelligently written story as well. For instance, as part of his deal with local law enforcement, Boss is forbidden to carry a gun or weapons and must turn to the world of “alternate toys.” The research that went into this by the author is clearly apparent. Further, this can be seen in the world-building which is done. Real world knowledge is used to create a fantastical setting. It all matches beautifully and sets the stage for the story events. In fact, that seems to be an overriding characteristic of his book. The author knows his stuff and has supported a thrilling novel with the factual knowledge to back it all up!
While the tale is fast-paced and intricate, it also relies upon its various characters a great deal. Trust me, that is not a bad thing as the players in this story are dynamic, believable and full of color to say the least. Written in the first person perspective, we get to know Boss MacTavin quite intimately. His innermost thoughts and motivations are quite clearly laid out. However, it is his interaction with the other characters which allow us to understand them and further appreciate the author’s storytelling ability. Through crisp and snappy dialogue, the acid wit comes out and punches the reader right in the face. The characters are all flawed…which makes them so believable in such a truly escapist novel. Quite the mix! I truly see this series as a perfect fit for the big screen. It has a definite Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie feel to it. Wild and avant garde.
I typically have a few points in all of my book reviews suggesting next steps for a novel. I would not touch this one however. To do so would wipe away the magic. There are many mature themes in it and as such I would recommend it solely to an adult audience.
5 out of 5 Hard-Boiled Stars for this one!