From time to time for months now, I have been reading on various lists how great this book was and that it was a must read. Well, that was fine and all that, but my local library wasn't carrying it. Then, I was offered an opportunity to receive a review copy of this one as well as the planned sequel. I jumped at the chance and am very glad I did. For once, the hype matches the book.
By Robert Fate
Capital Crime Press
ISBN # 0-9776276-9-1
Large Trade Paperback
Its October, 1952 as this often violent crime novel opens in Henry Chin's Poolroom situated in West Texas. Seventeen year old Kristin "Baby" Van Dijk is there with her father, a pool hustler. With her mom dead and her aunt living up in Oklahoma, it's pretty much her, her dad, and her dad's Coupe de Ville as they travel Texas with her dad playing pool for money and reading books for fun. That is until members of the "Lost Demons" motorcycle gang walk in.
When it's over, her dad is dead, Henry Chin's son is dead, a couple gang members are dead, and Kristin has been raped repeatedly and brutally beaten. Her jaw is broken, teeth are missing, ribs are cracked, her nose is broken and the list keeps going on and on. She was lucky she lived through it and waking up in the hospital in Abilene makes her almost wish she hadn't. Then she meets Detective Hansard and it is pretty much clear that the case is going to go nowhere. As Henry puts it, "No police justice. Henry knows more ways one skin cat." (Page 20)
Author Robert Fate launches the reader into a revenge tale that is so much more than simple revenge. Kristin who rehabs and follows her dad's career path as a pool hustler quickly earning the name "Baby Shark" is not a stereotypical vigilante. Yes, there are elements of that sort of thing in her character, but as he does with all the characters in this fast moving novel, author Robert Fate shows the other side of her. Revenge, retaliation, payback, call it what you will, it has consequences often in unexpected ways and he grippingly details that side of it for the reader.
In a torturous and violence filled path that goes back and forth across West Texas and reaches into Forth Worth and Dallas, author Robert Fate weaves a complex trail of not only revenge, but duplicity and mystery. While the opening may be cut and dried between the black hats and the white hats, it isn't long before nothing is that simple. The result is a powerful, often violent novel that does actually live up to the media hype.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2007