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Beware The Hawk Kindle Edition
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Firstly, credit where it’s due. Kudos for a great first sentence—“I hurt my ankle as soon as I stepped into Boston.”
This is a novelette that serves as a sampler for a book series. I loved the writing—flippant, slick, noir. The MC was fun—street-wise and never short of a smart-assed comment or thought. The “world” was in the future, but not so far that iPhones had gone out of style. The locations were nicely gritty.
My only qualm was that the story ended in a cliff-hanger. Buy-the-series was clearly the message, but I’d have preferred a more satisfying closure. I felt cheated and knocked off a star.
Disclaimer: This review was originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. I may have received a free review copy.
That's how A.J. O'Connell describes her new novella "Beware the Hawk" on her website. I'm not suggesting I'm an expert of the genre as I can honestly say that I have read very few (if any) pulp fiction novels (wait, does Elmore Leonard count?) I'm just saying, even I know there are a few things that are absolutely essential:
Feisty Dames ✓ The protagonist of the story (who, lol, I didn't realize until writing this up, is nameless and when I figure out how O'Connell managed to do that so effortlessly I will gladly share it with you) is nothing if not feisty. Jaded, yes, but not so much so that she's unreachable and isn't constantly surprised and dismayed. You can feel shocked by her predicaments, because you sense that she is too, no matter how above it all she tries to portray herself.
Clandestine Meetings ✓ Protagonist and her Boston contact, Leo have a number of meetings in a seedy bar where things get more confused the more they're explained.
Code Words ✓ The title alone tells you this is true and yet it avoids being gimmicky.
Someone Overusing the Term "Sweetheart" ✓ Sooooo many sweethearts! But, hey, a pulp fiction book that takes place in Boston where it's not sweetheart, but "sweet-haht" is begging for this overuse.
If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the genre, I highly suggest you start here. It's a short, well written read that will have you wishing it was so much longer. Not in an unfinished way, but in a "I want to hang out with these characters for many, many more pages" way.
In addition to the subtle way that she avoids naming the main character and still makes us feel as if we know her almost intimately, the writer in me also admires and wants to know how O'Connell finds the exact perfect way with descriptions so that they not only tell us the physicality of a thing, but also a bit about the character who notices them without weighing us down with too many facts. It's a gift that's for sure.
Here are a few of my non-spoilery favorites that, thanks to Kindle being in every aspect of my life I can easily highlight on my reader and then cut and paste on my Kindle App for my PC (annotated and everything!!). ♥
"It started as a tramp stamp but kind of took over. One of my roommates calls it a tramp stampede."
O'Connell, A.J. (2012-01-14). Beware The Hawk (Kindle Locations 334-335). Vagabondage Press LLC. Kindle Edition.
"I turned my head to see three skinny girls wearing black tank tops and khakis. Danny picked all of them up in one gigantic hug and then dropped them. They fell on their feet, three Siamese cats, styled by Abercrombie & Fitch."
O'Connell, A.J. (2012-01-14). Beware The Hawk (Kindle Locations 355-356). Vagabondage Press LLC. Kindle Edition.
It's taking everything in me not to share every single example and every single witty sentence (of which there are many) that I have highlighted here. But I don't have the time (or copyright) for that. :)) Plus, you should probably read it for yourself and highlight your own favorites.