by Paul D. Marks
Review: Zach Tanner has returned to Los Angeles after serving, and being wounded, in Afghanistan. Spending some time recovering in a hospital on the East Coast, he looks forward to reconnecting with the girl he left behind, and maybe catching up with some buddies from high school, in Vortex, a crime noir by Paul D. Marks.
Before he and a few of his friends enlisted, they all had dreams of where they were going. War changed that for Zach, made him more realistic about what was possible, and more importantly, what wasn't, but not for his girlfriend Jessie, who still has stars in her eyes. Still, Zach is willing to make the effort … if only he can shake the two men, who are chasing him. He knows what they want, and he doesn't have it, but they don't believe him, and they will do anything, and hurt anyone, to get what they think is rightfully theirs.
Vortex is a relatively short novel, coming in at under 200 pages. It's well-structured and paced, getting off to a quick start with a chase scene down an LA freeway before settling back and filling in some of the backstory as to how they players came to be in this situation. The central character, Zach Tanner, who also narrates, is deftly drawn, with enough details for readers to get to know him while keeping an aura of mystery around him (and most especially, what happened in Afghanistan). He's not the most likeable of guys, but in an ironic way that's also part of his appeal. The supporting cast, including Jessie, are not nearly as well-defined, and almost seem interchangeable as a consequence. Maybe this was intentional on the part of the author, as their roles are far more fluid in the story than Zach's, which also helps to keep the suspense level relatively high. Still, it's pretty easy to imagine the basic parameters of the endgame fairly early on, though the final chapter offers an unexpected twist. On balance, this is an intriguing, well-crafted crime novel, and in the end, a satisfying one as well.
Acknowledgment: Paul D. Marks provided an eARC of Vortex for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Vortex: Los Angeles; Southern California
— ♦ —
Vortex by Paul D. Marks
Publisher: Timeless Skies Publishing
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: September 2015
List Price: $10.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites