A Shadow of Black Water

John Wilson

Publisher: Volossal Pages: 357 Price: (paperback) $22.99 ISBN: 9781963359114 Reviewed: June, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

In John Wilson’s new thriller, the first in a projected series, a young gangster reconsiders his life.

At 17, Abel Kane helped his uncle Deacon, a career criminal, get away with murder. Ten years later, under Deke’s mentorship, Abel heads his own gang of robbers. The crew’s latest job – robbing a sleazy check-cashing establishment – is supposed to be simple, but faulty information leaves Abel wounded in a shoot-out and his sister, Callie, begging him to reconsider the path he’s on.

But when Callie, a nurse, treats a teen girl who’s been brutalized by MS-13 gang members, Abel and his gang decide to pull off a big score while bringing the perpetrators to justice. They will intercept an arms deal between MS-13 and the Aryan Brotherhood, abscond with the cash and arrange for the rescue of other girls MS-13 is holding captive.

Amid the peril of going toe-to-toe with two powerful gangs, Abel finds himself falling for Olivia, a down-to-earth single mother with a devastating connection to his past.

Tales of crooks contemplating going straight have perennial appeal, and Abel’s complicated family ties lend richness to the story. The bonds among Abel and his gang members feel authentic and are leavened by amusing banter. For instance, when one gang member remarks that an Aryan Brotherhood campsite is oddly deserted, another retorts: “They probably all have jobs during the day, you know making pretzels or some shit.”

In addition to its appealing traits, the book has some flaws. It seems unlikely that Abel and his crew would risk making enemies of two notoriously brutal gangs, despite the potential reward. And the novel’s multiple points of view, particularly those of the MS-13 members, seem unnecessary and are distracting. Finally, Abel’s motivations and backstory are underdeveloped and could use fleshing out.

In all, the novel is an uneven read but with enough rewards to satisfy some thriller fans.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
League City, Texas
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