Monday, February 11, 2019

ALL THE WAY DOWN :: Eric Beetner

I took a break to read a book from my own stack and Eric Beetner's All the Way Down was at the top of the list. Whenever I read Eric's latest work, I do two things merely for my own giggles:

1. Note the page the action starts.
2. Make a list of non-conventional weapons.

All the Way Down is a ton of fun and I blew through it in a couple of sittings. What's not to love about a series of death matches featuring a disgraced cop, a tough young reporter, a drug lord and his minions (and his mommy, for awesomeness's sake), crooked politicians (excuse the redundancy), a pregnant wife on the run, a bunch of double-crossers and an office building fortress filled with floor upon floor of perilous surprises?

When Detective Dale Burnett is called in to see the chief, he knows the jig is up. His little deals on the side slowly snowballed until he became a dirty cop. Prepared to kiss his life and career goodbye, Dale is surprised when he's given a reprieve with one major caveat - the mayor's daughter is being held captive by crime kingpin Tautolo "Tat" Losopo and Dale has to "storm the castle" of Tat's skyscraper turned drug empire stronghold and get her out.

Since Tat is part of the reason Dale went bad, he figures he'll show up and talk some sense into the drug lord, who is upset about some new anti-drug legislation the mayor is pushing. If you hadn't noticed, this is an Eric Beetner novel, so things for Dale go from bad to worse to worst rather quickly. By page 16, to be exact (unless you count "going bad" as getting called in by the chief, which would take us back to page one).

Turns out the mayor's daughter is pretty fierce, and soon she's fighting alongside Dale to run the gauntlet of lethal pitfalls between Tat's top story office and the lobby. Unfortunately, Dale is feeling some added pressure since Tat sicked his goons on Dale's wife Dahlia.

There's a ton going on with the various plot arcs, but Beetner never loses control of the action. One of the things I love most about Eric's work is he pays little attention to gender when it comes to whether his characters are fighters or retreaters. He respects and disrespects everyone in equal measure. It's all pulpy fun and violence, with plenty of women getting into the fisticuffs. And sometimes the men can't fight any more efficiently than a hair-pull.

Each floor of Tat's building is another level of the Happiest Place on Earth at Gangsterland, but the action is just as good on Dahlia's end. Don't fall in love with any of the characters, because Eric is, as usual, ruthless with their survival rates.

STREET SENSE: A non-stop E-ticket ride, All the Way Down is one of my Beetner favorites. Tons of action and characters to root for (and against) for as long as they might survive. One of these days I'm going to see if you really can karate kick while wearing stiletto heels and a mini-dress (who are we kidding, I'm NOT, but it's fun to read about). I'm also anxious to try the "poor man's handcuffs." Any takers?

A FAVORITE PASSAGE: "Everything in the world is a weapon if you use it like one."

Simple, but perhaps my favorite tenet of the Beetner bible (along with "Really, how many torture rooms do you need?" "Don't you dare shoot that fucking dog," and "How much worse could it get?"). My count was 14 unconventional weapons. I'd tell you my favorite, but I don't want to spoil the fun.

COVER NERD SAYS: Eric's covers are always great and this one is no different. The image angle is great and provides a sense of power and foreboding. I love the font tricks that bring motion to the cover in an almost elevator-like fashion. The choice of author name angle and placement also really adds to the visual appeal of this cover, which is overall quite super. I'm not sure the tag lines add much and would have preferred those moved to the back cover, but I'm a cantankerous minimalist nit-picker.

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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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