Rules, what rules?
There are no rules.
Maybe “best practices.”
Maybe “clear, strong suggestions.”
Maybe “start here if you don’t know how else to write.”
Adrian McKinty breaks a thick book full of rules in “Fifty Grand.”
The style is blunt like this.
A quick, six-line sample:
“Roll after roll.
He starts to fight and buck.
Another loop over his mouth.
I close the trunk.
I don’t feel good about this.”
Good energy in those written punches, but McKinty uses it with atmospheric stuff too.
The opening and closing scenes on the lake are memorable.
Minor quibble: both drag on a bit too long.
But even when it’s not action, McKinty will often build a list.
Take my word for it.
Sights and sounds.
The first three chapters of “Fifty Grand” positively crackle.
Then a relatively flat middle sequence: the investigation.
Getting Detective Mercado (a terrific female lead character, an undercover Cuban) into Colorado is gripping and the end packs a wallop.
A cold, wet wallop.
The middle sagged.
The setting for this is fictional Fairview, Colorado.
Fairview felt like noview.
(I wonder why McKinty didn’t choose a real town? He lived in Colorado for ten years…)
I sort of pictured Fairview as Steamboat, I sort of pictured Telluride but the town was fairly close to Wyoming so, well, Steamboat without the Hollywood stars.
(Another complaint: The extremely corrupt cops were also just a bit too one-note, too far gone.)
But that punchy, no-rules style.
It keeps you going.
Major theme of “Fifty Grand:” Power makes everyone a tyrant.
“Fifty Grand” could have been more.
Gotta read McKinty’s earlier one now.
Who can resist a title like that? “Dead I Well May Be.”
What grammar teacher didn’t square McKinty up straight?
The answer: probably nobody.
Overall, a good thing.