Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Small Crimes-Dave Zeltserman

Small Crimes
Dave Zeltserman
Serpent Tail, Oct 2008, $14.95
ISBN: 9781852429713

Bradley County police officer Joe Denton moonlighted for local mafia chief Manny Vassey doing all sorts of mostly SMALL CRIMES to pay off his gambling debts and to insure no harm came to his wife Elaine or their two preadolescent daughters. District Attorney Phil Coakley caught Joe breaking into his office; panicked into a berserker rage the crooked cop stabs the DA thirteen times in the face with a screwdriver. He scarred the DA for life. Joe confessed, is convicted and goes to the county prison.

Seven years later Joe is paroled and moves in with his parents who do not want him there. His wife left town with the kids with a new name and no forwarding address. Vengeful Phil wants to hang Joe and feels he has a reliable source if he can crack the dying Manny who fears he is going to hell if he fails to confess his sins. Crooked county Sheriff Dan Pleasant, who took care of Joe while he was in prison, reminds him of the Ferguson homicide and warns him he either kills Vassey or Coakley if he does not want Plan B implemented because the lawman knows he faces twenty years hard time otherwise.

This crime Noir stars a former crooked cop unable to overcome his past as the key players from back then seem to converge on him now that he is “free” though he would argue otherwise. Readers will appreciate Dave Zeltserman’s character driven tale as Joe’s options are limited obviously by the triangulation that he feels is strangling him and by his own amoral outlook; not having his three beloved females nearby increases his anti-societal tendencies. Fans will appreciate this deep Noir-lit as Phil and Dan put the pressure on Joe while Manny is the one who can send him up for life.

Harriet Klausner