REVIEW of Larry "Animal" Garner's D-E-D, Dead by Anne Carlisle, author of HOME SCHOOLING: The Fire Night Ball
Larry "Animal" Garner's "D-E-D, Dead" is a thriller and expose of motorcycle clubs operating like organized crime, set in 1990. It has a compelling sense of immediacy --the first person, present tense pov does the trick--and a great deal of detail. Even before chapter one, I chuckle at the "Acknowledgement" to "all the crazy bastards I know who inspired this book." Throughout, it has a vividness and authenticity in its use of the language that are bed-rock.
However, D-E-D is also, sometimes painfully, S-L-O. It's a book that needs a radical paring down. If I were Larry's editor or a film agent, I'd say cut the thing in half and then you'll really have something. The action takes place over a couple of weeks, but it takes 600 pages to get through it. As a frequent customer of the Green Parrot Bar, I'm delighted it ends there. I would be just as glad, however, to see many other scenes and locales cut. For instance, we're treated to literally hundreds of diner meals. Order details give a homey feel--once or twice--but there are way, way, way too many. Each day is grindingly chronicled. Two words: Occam's Razor. When it's cut back, the talent will shine forth.
I would also suggest certain things about it aren't entirely credible. The hero's willingness to wait until the end of the book to bed the willing woman he has the hots for is a questionable choice. We're talking a biker guy here, not Sir Galahad. I prefer the tension when the hero and his pal both love the same gal. There's a sappy, sentimental tinge to the friendship that strikes me as not quite on-the-nose. I guess I'm looking for that "Treasure of Sierra Madre" complexity, where the money makes for interesting difficulties.
Speaking of the money, the hero(on the lam from busting his gang's meth labs )blunders upon 5 million dollars while playing the Good Samaritan. The money is handed out to the growing gang members at the end, but this is anticlimactic. The money is never used to good theatrical effect. This is a gang with a heart--perhaps too much so-- rescuing young girls from meth addiction and prostitution, caring about a guy's sister who has lupus. The bad guys are bad, but the "good" guys, despite Hammer describing himself as a "criminal," sometimes come off as goody-two-shoes. There's not a lot of friction in that formula. Though violence is perpetrated, sometimes suspense is lacking. However, there are some scenes that are riveting, such as the bloody Polly-versus-Judy scene in a cafe men's room.
All in all, it's a four-star presentation with an editing problem, which brings it to a three-star. Plus a tip of the hat to a writer who knows how to write sentences in the Hemingway style--spare, physical, and real. Nice work!