Dark Ride by Lou Berney [8/10]

American noir novelist Lou Berney shines out from the pack (just go read his November Road, okay?) but with Dark Ride, he has sashayed to write about a meek twenty-one-year-old stoner without an ounce of violence in his bones. When “Hardly” Reed spies two young kids with clear cigarette burns on their legs, something in him awakens for the first time, and after pursuing official channels for rescue and justice, decides to bumble his own way forward. Part of the pleasure of the read is the support characters who stumble into his adventure: a geeky dork who wants to be loved, a young Goth woman working as a public servant. Hardly starts to learn, often the hard way, how to find, track, and discover, while his increased knowledge inflames his sense of injustice even further, while menace hovers and builds. Berney writes the tale close-up, in Hardly’s confused but intelligent frame, and the tension cooks and cooks toward a fitting climax. I recommend you read anything Lou Berney takes his fancy to write, and Dark Ride is an excellent introduction.

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