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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: The Take

The TakeTitle: The Take
Author: Mike Dennis
Page Count: 226 pages
Publisher: L&L Dreamspell
Genre: noir
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: Eddie Ryan is a bookie who can't keep a winning streak for longer than a few seconds.  When a get-rich-quick scheme goes south in the worst possible way, he's got to take his show on the road- and quick.

The Take is, perhaps, what you would find if you looked up "noir" in the dictionary.  The components of a great noir are all here- moral ambiguity, pipe dreams, bad decisions, drugs, corruption, dames, broads, the works.  This story is definitely out of the realm of what typically comes on my radar but I'm glad I took a chance with this one.

Eddie Ryan is not a guy one would want to bring home to mother. He makes book in Houston, and he's not very good- a bookie who has to borrow a boatload of money from a loan shark to cover the fact that he lost his shirt is in trouble with a capital T.  Eddie decides to try to dig himself out of trouble with a really big, pointy shovel- he and one of his most trusted confidants (he thinks) are going to rob a notorious Houston drug dealer.  After all, stealing from other criminals isn't like stealing from regular people, right? That kind of logic that has served Eddie so poorly in the beginning of the novel continues to bring its logical results throughout the rest of the book.  One of the sobering notes of noir is that the characters just can't seem to get out of their own way, and that element is present in full effect in The Take.

Needless to say, robbing the drug dealer doesn't go as smoothly as they would have hoped, and our characters have to leave town in a big hurry.  In the process, he hooks up with Felina, his confidant's girlfriend, and they take off for the exotic city of New Orleans to wait while things cool off in Houston.  They figure the plan is solid, and that nothing else could possibly go wrong, which is a fatal error on their part, for reasons you'll have to read the book to unearth.

Be advised- this is not a feel good story of folks rising up out of dismal circumstances to better themselves and ride off into a rosy sunset of law-abiding joy.  No, it's the story of what can happen if one truly lives in the moment and doesn't take any lessons away from moments that have come before.  Eddie Ryan is a creature of spontaneity who delegates important decisions to folks who shouldn't be making them.  Perhaps the darkest part of this noir is the lengths to which Eddie goes to try to get himself even; we see the end result coming long before he does, which just adds to the dark feel.

If you've never read noir before, you should!  The Take is certainly a good place to start. 

Overall Grade: A-
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