Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Notes — Scar Tissue: Award-Winning Conger Has Series Well Under Way

Trace Conger’s first Finn P.I novel, The Shadow Broker, picked up a Shamus Award — quite an accomplishment. My contention is that almost everyone has at least one good story to tell. Proof of a talented writer is what follows. I would add the obvious: one book does not a series make.
Scar Tissue proves that Conger has more than one good story.  It also suggests that series’ lovers can look forward to a future with underground P.I., Mr. Finn.

Here, Finn’s father, ex-wife, daughter, and a few, assorted characters return in a fast-paced story that is like a chain-linked fence with each link a cliffhanger. To mix a metaphor, read one chapter and you are off to the races. (Yogi Berra couldn’t have said it better.)

Conger sets up the main plot with Finn trying to free his ex-wife’s boyfriend from the clutches of a brutal drug lord, a character drawn adeptly and cliché free.  While Finn gets himself in deep shit, his father sets out to confront his own checkered past — wounds that just won’t heal. Getting themselves in over their respective heads seems to be a family trait.  Yet we find ourselves rooting for Finn and his father and taking satisfaction with the often-violent nature of vigilante justice and personal retribution.

Trace Conger
With Finn, Conger has created a distinctive and most likely enduring main character.  In the first book, he was forced to adopt a take no prisoners approach to problem solving. The experience hardened him.  Now he will do whatever it takes, operating in the land between the law abiding and survival of the fittest.  Yet Finn is believable.   He’s not a superhero like Reacher or Spillane or even Spencer.  He’s more of an Old Testament version of Rockford, if there were such a thing. He has an inclination to protect the innocent, bluff, pull off the con and stay loyal to loved ones: but he is vengeful, willing to ice someone, even in a preemptive strike, if necessary, all the while shrugging off guilt like flakes from a light snow.

Conger’s writing is direct.  It moves clearly and quickly, perfect for thrillers. Finn finds what he needs to achieve his goal, step by step, without CSI forensics. It is, in a sense, an old-fashioned P.I procedural, yet one filled with constant terror. You’ll stay awake until you finish it.  As I said in my comments on the first Finn book, he’ll be back.


Bryan Koepke said...

It's very impressive that Trace won the Shamus Award for his first novel. I look forward to picking up a copy and reading it cover to cover.

Ronald Tierney said...

Both books are great reads.