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  • Beat
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on December 24, 2011
How folks can give 5 stars to this novel escapes me. The writing is ordinary, the story line odd and perverted. Basic facts such as how to get to the Berkeley Hills are a mess. The Bay Bridge is not the 101 Freeway north- that's the Golden Gate Bridge. Then there is the whole question of the main character, an LAPD cop with a sex perversion who is pursuing a call girl on his own dime. Yet the Feds decide to let him raid a bar in San Francisco on his own. My smell test is going haywire by now. How the reader identifies either with the call girls, the bad guys, or the cops, who are essentially bad guys in this story, I don't know. The author seems to want to paint a picture of a hard-boiled cop pursuing the bad girl in an effort to do right, but he is not. He's pursuing his own perversion, and the author gives him the color of law to do so. He's already once led the call girl into the lair of the bad guys. It's just not realistic, in my opinion. And not very interesting, either.
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on December 1, 2010
Second in a series of police procedurals (very loosely defined) after Boulevard, this book can't truly be called "noir" as there is a semblance of hope at the end, but it's about as black as one can get.

Hayden Glass, an LAPD Robbery-Homicide detective is a sex addict. After witnessing the abduction of a hooker whom he thought liked him (he learns later what an act it was,) and with whom he thought he was in love (he has difficulty separating love from lust) he follows her abductors to San Francisco where he becomes mired in a morass of crooked cops, really evil Russian mobster/pimps, and the FBI, all of whom have differing motives for getting the girl back. It seems she was a witness to a murder that would implicate a high-ranking police officer. The mobsters want her for blackmail and the Feebs need her to bring down the crooked cops. Hayden feels impelled to save her, although his motives are anything but pure. Toward the end of the novel, one of the Russians makes this clear, "Would you like to know what you are to me, Detective? You're my demographic. You're the reason these girls exist. I simply supply the demand. If there weren't a market for this, I wouldn't be here. You're the market. I can't believe you don't get that. You've got to be the stupidest son of a bitch I've ever--"

If you are in any way offended by explicit sex or extreme violence, avoid this book. I'm not but did find the gory finale excessive if not unbelievable. Still, Schwartz has created a very sympathetic and tormented character. It will be fascinating to watch him develop in what I hope will be a long-running series.
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on December 3, 2010
Reading "Beat" is equal to taking a journey through a crime, through a city, through a character's soul. Set in San Francisco, Mr. Schwartz's story makes the city a character from the lights of its clubs to the misty, foggy streets that reflect the state of mind of Hayden Glass, the detective protagonist. Glass is determined to track down a missing girl, and he struggles with his own demons as he does so. As the story progresses, we learn more about Glass (from the excellent "Boulevard") and share some hope for his solution of the crime, and hope for some personal peace. This is just plain gripping, and it stays with you long after it is finished.
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Hayden Glass is at it again, and I had to stay up half the night to finish it, or I could have never gone to sleep. As it was, I was way over-stimulated, and sleep came only after the morning alarm. Though set in San Francisco, with a lot of foreign flavor, it still feels like L.A. grit. More Glass, please.
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on April 15, 2016
I was expecting much more from this book after having read Boulevard. I enjoyed the book, but was disappointed.
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Other reviewers have described the book, so I don't need to recap them. But I have to say that gritty and edgy are understatements. Steve Schwartz is an amazing talent (and he's also a great guy! Cheers, Steve. Keep 'em coming!
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on July 20, 2013
I read the first. It was depressing. Gave the author a 2nd chance. Big mistake. There is no likable person in these novels. You just want all of them to go away. Struggled to get to finish.
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on May 14, 2013
This probably isn't the worst novel I've ever read, but I can't think of any that's worse. It is a pitiful mess of a book, inept in almost every way.

The author actually shows some talent for characterization, which somehow makes it even sadder that his novel is so bad. You get the sense that he might be a capable novelist 20 years from now if he works hard at it, but he has been done a serious disservice by whoever deemed his work fit for publication now.

I really can't overstate how bad this book is. Its premise is compelling - a homicidal, sex-addicted maniac of a cop torn between his addiction to prostitutes and his desire for redemption - but it never gets beyond being a premise. Schwartz has no idea how to tell a story - one unbelievable coincidence follows another, and there is no consistency in the characters' beliefs and motivations. It reads as though he started each scene having forgotten what he wrote in the previous scene.

Although Schwartz writes scenes of violence in fetishistic detail, it's obvious that he knows nothing about it. As the story begins, his hero gets shot in the chest, spends a few hours in the hospital, signs himself out, doesn't take care of the wound - remember, a bullet wound in the chest fired at point-blank range - and yet the injury doesn't stop him from getting in fights, getting severely beaten, compulsively masturbating, and having sex with a woman who has always loathed and feared him, but has inexplicably changed her mind.

The cartoonishness and near-incoherence of this novel might be entertaining if it weren't for its aspiration to seriousness; that its subject is underage girls being prostituted and tortured seems exploitative in a book this trashy.

When Schwartz isn't trying to write narrative or shock the reader, his writing can be engaging. When the characters are just interacting with one another, they're so three-dimensional that you care about them and want to know what will become of them. The answer, sadly, is "Not much."

This book is presented as a mystery novel, but the only mystery is that it ever found a publisher.
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VINE VOICEon December 20, 2010
Hayden Glass is a decorated LAPD robbery-homicide detective. He is also out on medical leave at the moment, for at least two reasons..his out of control sex addiction and the fact that he torn a man to pieces. A very bad man, but still.

So, he sits home and attends his Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings as ordered, but soon the voice of Rufus, as he calls the sex addicted voice in his brain, is again calling to him. Before long, Hayden is on the internet, looking for satisfaction. He meets a hooker in an on-line video chat room but as things escalate, as he believes he is falling 'in love' with her, he finds himself driving to San Francisco to meet the woman in person, spending every dollar he can get his hands on to pay to be with her. Then things take a violent and horrible turn. Two men break into the hotel room where Hayden and the hooker are 'meeting', beat Hayden terribly, steal his gun and badge and drag the girl out. Before Hayden knows what has happened, as he searches for her, he finds himself in the middle of a powerful and evil sex slave ring run by the Russian mob, protected by corrupt elements in the police department and under investigation by the FBI. Oh, what Hayden will do for "love".

This book is graphic, in matters of sex and in matters of violence. Quite honestly, violence in books rarely bothers me but this about reached my limit. The graphic nature of the sex was just rather creepy. So, did I hate this book, did I dislike it? Well, no, not totally, which really says something for the rest of the book. It is a good story, with some great characters, a great setting and some good twists and turns. Personally, I think if the violence and sex had been turned down a bit, it would have been a better book. It certainly would have been one I liked more.

But the real issue for me is the character of Hayden. Yes, I get the whole anti-hero thing, but really, he is a very unlikable man. I have an issue with the whole idea of sexual addiction but his lack of ability to control himself, no matter what the consequences, just gets annoying and distasteful. He wants to paint these people in the sex trade as so very bad, so very evil, and yet he and people like him are the very reason that the business exists. But that is different in his mind..because he is an addict. Even when he finds out how very young his on-line 'girlfriend' is. Please...

A good story, a well written thriller, wrapped in a rather distasteful and troubling wrapper.
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2010
I wonder what would happen if you crossed a great crime-writer like Michael Connelly with a writer of gritty suspense movies set in the sexual underworld--something with crime and rather graphic and dark sexuality, I expect; something like The Beat. I'd already read author Stephen Jay Schwartz's short story Crossing the Line about a young LA cop assigned to vice, who learns the dark and practical way why one particular prostitute can never be arrested. When I read of Detective Hayden Glass's sex addiction on the back cover of The Beat, I knew what to expect. But the front cover quote from Michael Connelly is just as telling, describing The Beat as a great original take on detective fiction. It has a dark and gritty mystery, a powerfully convincing protagonist, a steamy underbelly running through San Francisco and internet porn, and a hard-fought-for hope. I hope it might make a good movie one day, but the novel's written with such convincing description, I feel like I've already seen it. Stephen Jay Schwartz is deservedly a Los Angeles Time Bestselling Author.

The abused women caught up in vice-torn San Francisco are only one side to this story. Protagonist Glass is a wounded soul himself, with dark secrets never wholly revealed, and a berserker anger that lies just a short way in his past (and future too perhaps). Rewarded with the Medal of Honor for his valiant capture of a violent criminal, he's also consigned to the psychiatrist's couch for the destruction he wrought, and for his sex addiction. A cop with a beat of his own and demons to beat, Glass has not really fallen; he just falling with style he thinks, till the girl he believes he loves disappears and her captors fail to kill him. Now the search is on. Who owns whom? Whose money buys which influence? And who's on the take?

The story is an exciting roller coaster ride as Glass follows clues, falls behind, finds hope and betrays it again. But the ride leads ever forward with Glass climbing higher after each deeper fall, till a final violent conclusion and surprise decision open the door to peaceful respite. Not a pleasant man, Glass is convincingly real and well worth saving; he has a wounded honesty that really pulls the reader to his side. Not an easy read, The Beat is a powerful evocative novel of dark crime, graphic violence, and surprising depth. I'm really glad I was given the chance to read and review it for the author's Blog Tour.
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