I arrived very late to this one but, after hearing of its CWA New Blood (John Creasey) Dagger award and of Ryan David Jahn’s three book deal from Pan Macmillan, I decided it was time to find out what the fuss was all about.
Acts of Violence is the debut novel by the author, written after several years in the television and film business, and a clear sharp cinematic style is clear throughout – this guy writes perfect images on the page.
The story, or the central tale at least, is that of Katrina Marino and her notorious murder in 1960’s New York City, but it’s much much more than that. This is a sprawling pressure cooker of a book, taking in turn the individual stories, dramas and individual violence’s of the lives of those close by on the fateful night.
From the young army recruit who doesn’t want to leave his dying mother’s side, the crooked cop and his devious actions to cover his own crimes, through to a young woman who fears that she has killed a child in a car accident, this is a very dark night indeed.
But best is the way that each story touches- maybe slightly, sometimes with more impact – on another tale, the internal episodes all crashing in on each other during a relatively tight timescale. It is so cleverly executed – the closest I have seen it done before is in the cinema with horror in ‘Trick r Treat’ or cult crime in ‘Pulp Fiction’.
The writing is spare and fast moving – rarely have I read a novel so quickly, devouring each and every segment, and loving it in its entirety.
This is a book that made me want to get back to writing my own stories, but also one that made me stop and think how the hell can I possibly hope to compete when a book like this exists?
Anxiously awaiting the next novel, The Dispatcher.
Keith B Walters