Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ROUGH RIDERS by Charlie Stella

Rough Riders is a follow up to Charlie Stella’s 2001 novel Eddie’s World. This time around Eddie Senta spends the bulk of his time in a coma. His old nemesis James Singleton, called Washington Stewart since he snitched for a new identity, put a hit on Senta that went sour. Senta’s wife hires former NYPD detective, and current private eye, Alex Pavlik to find Singleton. The trail leads to North Dakota where there is something of a cold spell—30 below and holding—and a crime wave.

There is also a cast of real characters: a former Miss North Dakota tending bar, an ice cold Air Force Colonel who is both a pilot and M. D., a drug dealing airman about 20 points shy of a hundred, a couple gangsters, and a lineup of lawmen. Not to mention a college kid dead of a heroin overdose, and his strung out girlfriend.

The plot has a bunch of moving parts, and the action sprawls between New York and North Dakota. The bad guys, with Singleton at the center, cleverly plot their riches and ultimately their escapes. The good guys are mainly trying to get in the game, or even worse figuring what the game is, and who the players are. It is something close to humorous absurdity—the good and bad guys occupy the same places, but their paths rarely cross; Washington Stewart is missing an eye and one side of his face is caved in, but he is hard to find.

The dialogue, as always with Mr Stella, is something special. It is sharp, humorous, and revealing. The prose is stark as a Dakota winter, and the journey is a pleasant, entertaining, and involving distraction. Rough Riders is great fun.

Rough Riders was published as a trade paperback by Stark House Press in 2012, and Eddie’s World is scheduled to be republished in mass market by Stark House’s imprint Black Gat Books in May 2015.

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