Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review: BURN CARDS by Christopher Irvin

Burn CardsFrom the back of the book
Set in noir-rich Reno, Nevada, Burn Cards is a dark crime novella inspired by Christa Faust's Money Shot and Megan Abbott's Queenpin.

Mirna Fowler believes she has been cheated in life, growing up in a broken home alone with a drunken and gambling-addicted father. Now she works at a small hair salon in Reno, doing her best to survive while she saves money for school. Hoping to get a degree that will take her places.

But in the wake of her father's death, Mirna inherits his extravagant debt, an amount of money she can never repay. As her fractured world begins to crumble, the search for the truth sets her on a path where life hangs on her every move.


My Review
"The sky has grown dark by the time he dumps me inside the trunk of the sedan. A rough interior lining scrapes against the exposed skin of my shoulders and arms, leaving bloodless scratches crisscrossing a yellowing bruise." 

BURN CARDS deals the reader an irresistible hand, introducing pain and punishment without cause; curiosity from the cruel to pull the reader straight into a flush of flesh encrusted with blood, battered and bruised; noir with naught for reason.   

I love books that draw me from the get go and that's exactly what BURN CARDS did. 

Readers familiar with Christa Faust's MONEY SHOT (Hardcase Crime, Angel Dare #1) will immediately drawn comparisons yet BURN CARDS quickly treads down a vastly different path. Author Christopher Irvin (FEDERALS) has written a character driven, emotionally rich noir novella that packs a lot of heart and ache into a small page count (my print copy clocked in at 124pgs). 

The thing that resonates long after reading is the overwhelming sense of hopelessness compounded by  the elusiveness of that 'happy-ever-after' ending. Mirna enters the scene as a victim as leaves as one. 

My only gripe relates to the characters; there is little movement in terms of emotional growth which is difficult to achieve in a novella, perhaps if BURN CARDS was written as a full length, Mirna would've come to life in a more three dimensional way.

That said, I enjoyed BURN CARDS. It's a fast paced read that will appeal to readers of noir and those who like darker crime fiction. 

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