Book Review: Jack Wakes Up by Seth Harwood

Just finished Seth Harwood’s once-podcast, now-published book <"https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307454355/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=awpbooks0e-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0307454355&linkId=25c42e2a314ae60d3e15fbc54d501403" title="Purchase Jack Wakes Up">Jack Wakes Up. Here’s the skinny:

In Jack Wakes up, Harwood gives us a new twist on the old noir heist formula. Jack Palms, out of work actor, is tapped by a friend to play second fiddle on a giant drug dealer. He needs the money. He needs the distraction. He’s so amazingly bored that when bullets start flying and people start dying, he finds it exhilarating. In this, his first outing, Harwood combines the classic noir sensibilities of James M Cain with the quck-clipped plot movement that children of the nineties have come to expect from Tarantino films. He also gives Jack Wakes up an unusual but indispensable element: A sense of place. Not content to use just the familiar landmarks, Jack moves down in the older, decaying parts of San Francisco and other flavorful parts of the Bay Area.

In short, Jack Wakes Up is an excellent crime noir, and it keeps you on your toes with hundreds of little surprises, such as a trio of Czech gangsters who want nothing more than to tour the USA on Harleys bring a touch of the tragicomic (reminiscent of the gangsters in Ludlum’s Road to Gandolfo without descending into farce). Add to that the use of present tense narration (the last time the present tense used this well was in Scott Turow’s “Presumed Innocent”M/a>), and you’ve got the recipe for a novel that moves fast, keeps you on your toes, and has some delightful and moving twists that leave you sincerely caring about every one of the characters, from the buffoons to the monsters.

With superb use of language and a hopping story, Harwood’s debut is the start of a promising career. Highly recommended.

Find it on Amazon.com, or in podcast form at Harwood’s home page or Podiobooks.

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