Tuesday, January 6, 2015


A quick, two-cent opinion about Old Gold, the first of Jay Stringer's Eoin Miller series:

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Jay Stringer at this year’s Bouchercon convention in Long Beach, and working on my theory that people with crafty, well-developed senses of humor tell good stories, I decided to listen to Jay’s first Eoin Miller novel, Old Gold. I was impressed by both the writing and the narration, performed by Ralph Lister, and will definitely be moving on to the next entries in the series, Runaway Town and Lost City.

Eoin is a bit of a sad-sack, world-weary, anti-hero stuck between competing worlds without fitting neatly into any of them. His former occupation as a cop ran afoul of his father’s Romani heritage and mistrust of the police (and authority in general). His current gig doing sideline investigative work includes jobs for a local gang contingent involved in the drug trade, which means he really doesn’t fit in as a legit cop or investigator either.

Despite being somewhat adrift and morose, with a healthy dash of the sarcastic thrown in, there’s no denying Eoin is an intelligent man with a decent moral compass – he wants to do the right thing. After striking up a conversation with a woman at a local pub who reminds him of Lauren Bacall, he’s driven to help when she indicates she may be in a bit of trouble. Of course, her trouble ends up biting Eoin in the ass, and he’s forced to solve a murder before it’s discovered by the cops and he’s in the frame for it.

Getting himself out of the mess requires engaging with and manufacturing some dangerous play between the local gang elements. At the same time he’s trying to avoid the cops, Eoin is also working on their side when a former colleague enlists Eoin to find the missing son of one of the department brass. And while dealing with all THAT, he's also engrossed in a bit of cat-and-mouse with the real killer, who could drop a dime on him at any time. Conflicted? Just a bit.

It's no small feat that Stringer pulls all this off in great fashion, with dialogue-heavy prose that is spot-on natural, wildly engaging, and moves the plot along at a truly satisfying clip. Old Gold feels like It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World in the gutter on heroin (which I mean as a compliment, Jay). Although the book is serious in tone, I was glad to see Stringer's sense of humor shine through in Eoin from time to time, and loved the pop culture references. It's no secret I'm a sucker for anything with a Jaws reference.

If you're looking for a gritty series with crisp dialogue, a fast pace, and smart plot, give Stringer's Eoin Miller a shot, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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