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Sleuth in a Dark Heaven – New Heaven Blues (book review)

One morsel review: Fast, I’d nearly say light-hearted adventure, if it weren’t a noir. Heavily action-based, it involves a mystery – hey, after all, the main character is a sleuth –  and a lot more potentials then the story plays out.

41HdIj+oI8LThe Troubleshooter – New Heaven Blues Case
Bard Constantine

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Genre: dieselpunk

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Mick Troubble, detective, finds himself entangled in a mystery involving a missing leg and a secret that may turn New Heaven upside-down… a secret that thrusts its roots deep into Mick’s own past.

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Fog, killers and darkness. Welcome to New Heaven

Imagine a big city dominated by darkness and fog. The perfect place to hide, where people know minding their own business is the safest way to go about life.
Then imagine a PI who’s business is snooping around other people’s business. Who doesn’t remember his past and he’s fine about it because he’s quite happy with this city and what she can offer to him: a life he knows how to live.
This is the premise of the novel. Slap a mystery right in there, get a cast of unlikely, gruesome characters (well, not all of them), mix with a lot of action and humour, and you’ll end up with the Troubleshooter series.

Characters: give me them witty and fun

There’s a lot to like about New Heaven Blues, the first novel in the Troubleshooterseries.
First, New Heaven itself, the quintessential noir city. Dark and untrustworthy, and still the best of friends if you understand her. Mother of a lot of bad people… and as all dames, she has a past.
Then, you have the actual cast of characters, large and divers, definitely over the top and quite clearly comic-inspired. There are a few cliché popping up here and there but they are used in a way that is personal and fun enough that it never spoils the fun of reading.
Some characters are downright interesting. My favourite is Poddar, who is the stereotypical loyal bodyguard, but his personality and his story set him apart enough to make it his own character. I actually expected a lot more from Poddar and his relationship to Mick Troubble. These two men are so different you would think impossible for them to go along. But if you scrapped the surface just a little, you’d discover they have quite a bit in common in terms of what’s worthy in life. It started out quite fun, shame in the end it didn’t really go anywhere. The relationship between these two characters sort of faded away as the story progressed, letting a huge potential for characters’ building simply die out. This at least it’s my feeling.

I’m Mick Troubble, remember?

The style helps the pace and engagement a big deal, in my opinion. True to genuine noir style, this story is written in first person, with a very colloquial, slangy voice, and a wit that often bend on black humour. In spite of Mick Troubble’s obvious reluctance to get involved with anyone, including the reader, it’s actually very easy to get attached to this character who takes very little too seriously, including himself.
I love Mick. He’s witty and sarcastic and he acts as if he has nothing to lose – which is basically the case. Because he recounts his own story, you become privy with him very quickly. The fact that he himself doesn’t know a whole lot about his own past is a fantastic narrative device, in my opinion, because in spite of getting the story directly from Mick, as a reader you learn everything the moment he does, including anything regarding his past.
I actually think Troubble is a more interesting character than the story lets through. The parts I liked the most are the flashbacks on Troubble’s past life, a life he himself doesn’t remember and which slowly infiltrates into his conscience, stirred by the events. I really liked the conflict this creates, because the man who filters thought these flashbacks is a very different person from Troubble, a person Mick himself dislikes and doesn’t want to remember, let alone become him again.

I love Mick. He’s witty and sarcastic and he acts as if he has nothing to lose – which is basically the case #dieselpunk Share on X

Mix bag at the end, but a lot of action and fun

The story is heavily built on action, but I have this funny feeling that all the interesting parts are crammed at the end, together with the final battle, which tips the story toward the last leg of the plot rather then balancing it throughout. Also, it’s nice to build the story so that the juicy ideas filter through at the end, leaving a cliffhanger, and it’s nice to have a crazy fast-paced ending packed full of action. I’m not sure having the two happening at the same time is a good idea, though, because – at least in this particular case – I think one disturbed the other. It may be just me, but the flashbacks and the info revealed in the last part of story, which shade light both on Trubble’s past and the origin of New Heaven (which are bond, as it appears), were so interesting I’d have much rather learned more about them then go on a rollercoaster of action at the end. Or better, I’d have enjoyed both of them more if they hadn’t tripped over each other and just at the end.
That was kind of a shame, because I think the end it’s more fun than I actually appreciated it because of this mixing of elements.

But it was overall a very good book and I enjoyed it a lot.
There are three more stories about the Troubleshooter, one is out the press today. The Most Dangerous Dame. You may want to check them out.
And while you’re at that, check out The Troubleshooter Movie Casting Call. Just great!

6 Comments

  • Sue Coletta
    Posted May 25, 2015 at 19:32

    Mick sounds like a great character!

  • Sharon Marie Himsl
    Posted May 25, 2015 at 21:03

    Dieselpunk is still new to me. The foggy setting reminds me of growing up in western Washington and trying to navigate to the bus stop in the morning fog, so thick you couldn’t see more than an arm’s length. Didn’t know the genre is mostly 1st person. Thanks for the review!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 14:30

      When I was a child, we had that kind of fog where I live too, but weather has changed now.

  • Celine Jeanjean
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 02:36

    Ooh, this sounds like a really cool book! Thank you for reviewing that, I’m going to have to check it out! :)

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 28, 2015 at 14:31

      I hope you’ll like it. I enjoyed it very much :-)

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