Saturday, May 5, 2012

Crooked by Missouri Dalton

Title: Crooked
Author: Missouri Dalton
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: paranormal, police
Length: 29 pages

Nicky’s problems started six months into the job when his first partner, veteran cop Donny Myers, was killed and Nicky got tangled up with mob boss Cathan Kavanagh to get justice. Kavanagh didn't just want a few favors though, he wanted Nicky. Kavanagh drags Nicky down a dark and winding path of addiction and corruption. A transfer to homicide, and new partner Zeke might just be the trick to getting Nicky away from the poisonous gangster.

But things aren't what they seem on the surface. Kavanagh isn't exactly human, Zeke isn't exactly a cop and Nicky might just start believing--in fairies.


This short tosses the reader into the deep end of police work at its worst—an ugly hit gets a family with children and Nicky’s partner killed in a gruesome way. Nicky took out the hitman, one of the Martellis’ enforcers, putting Nicky at grave risk.

The masterminds behind the horror, the Martelli crime family, are nearly untouchable, so Nicky, consumed with grief and the need for justice, or maybe revenge, makes a deal with rival mobster Cathan Kavanaugh. This sounds more voluntary than it was—Nicky was destroying himself slowly, and Kavanaugh only channels the destruction to his own uses. They have an unequal sexual relationship—Kavanaugh takes what he likes and Nicky says “yes, sir.” With every bit of dirty work, Nicky feels himself slipping further into the abyss, until his new partner Zeke and Nicky’s brother intervene.

So far the story feels like a pretty straightforward dark police drama, but then it takes a slight left into paranormal territory, which the blurb warns for. It turns out that Zeke and Nicky have something special about them, attractive to the likes of Kavanaugh, who might have ridden with the Wild Hunt back in the day but favors expensive suits and Rolex watches now. Together, Nicky and Zeke could bring down the crime boss.

The genre bending of this story is rather appealing—the police/crime end of the story is gritty and horrifying, the paranormal end drawn on Irish sources. What this story doesn’t go is romance. Had the second half been expanded and developed more, that could have worked in too, but as it stands, the possibility exists, but only that. Kavanaugh used Nicky, something that felt dub-connish, overlain by Kavanaugh’s personality and magic to masquerade as consenting. This is an experience Nicky would need to heal from, and the author wisely doesn’t take the story into new healthy instant relationship mode in this short length, leaving a hint of possibility for later instead.

My enjoyment of the story with all its elements did suffer a bit from some chronic proofing errors and the occasional brick thrown into the prose, but all in all this was a decent read. Nicky could reasonably expand into further adventures. 3.5 marbles

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