Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Rico Stays by Ed Duncan (Pigeon-Blood Red #3)

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*No Spoilers* 

After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’s hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.

When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished, but three goons who had tried to help him lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.

Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found by men who surely would be looking. A place like a cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once. Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history. Or Paul’s fascination with him.

Using Rico’s girlfriend as bait, vengeful killers soon would be coming for him. The only question was whether he would face them alone or with help from Paul.

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Last year, I reviewed Ed Duncan‘s book The Last Straw. The second installation of the Pidgeon-Blood Red series. Since I enjoyed the previous installment, I couldn’t wait to dive into Rico Stays

I was concerned about if I should go back and reread The Last Straw. I have a vague memory of the overall plot, and I don’t remember which character appeared more. Each novel in the series you can read as a stand-alone novel. I looked at my last review; I talked about how Rico was my favorite character. Rico still is my favorite character, but I feel like I got to know Paul Elliot more in Rico Stays.

This novel is full of suspense, action, as well as character development. I feel like I got to know each of the major players in this story by the time I got to the last page. No one is one-dimensional in this story.

If you enjoyed the first two books, then Rico Stays should be added to your “To Be Read” list. I would recommend this for those who enjoy modern crime noir, mobster stories, and stories full of suspense and action.

Click Here to buy Rico Stays by Ed Duncan!

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Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with Ed Duncan

*No Spoilers for The Last Straw*

1. Your novel discusses how some kids leave street life behind as Mr. Elliot did, and how some kids never escape it. Was this something you witnessed yourself growing up?

Mr. Duncan: Yes, I did witness this.  I grew up in Gary, Indiana in the 1950s and 1960s.  At that time it was a booming steel town and was home to one of the largest steel mills in the country.  I lived in a lower middle-class neighborhood.  However, despite an abundance of jobs in the steel mills, there were nevertheless stubborn pockets of poverty within my neighborhood and on its edges.  Most of the boys who got into to trouble with the law and who, in those days were called “juvenile delinquents,” lived in the poverty-stricken areas of the city, and some of them were my friends, schoolmates, and neighbors.  Too young and stupid to know better, I occasionally joined them in some of their less serious infractions.  Fortunately, as we grew older, our paths diverged.  While I (and others) concentrated on school, some boys I considered to be friends graduated to more serious crimes.  A handful ended up in prison for varying lengths of time, up to and including life, and a few even died in street violence.  Maturity and parental guidance were part of the reason I escaped their fate, but another part was luck.

2. Do you feel like you connect more with Mr. Elliott or more with Rico?

Mr. Duncan: Paul Elliott was always meant to be the hero of the novel because he is a highly idealized version of me!  Like me, he comes from a working-class family, he did well in school, and he became the first black partner in a large majority law firm.  However, the more I developed Rico’s character, the more he fought to become the central focus of the narrative.  The more I tried to rein him in, the more he resisted.  Although I didn’t surrender, I like to think we fought to a draw.  By that, I mean that Paul is at least arguably on par with Rico as the driving force in the novel.  So the answer to your question is that, while I understand that readers will feel that Rico is the more riveting character (as do I), I actually connect more with Paul.

3. Are you part of a writing community?  If so, how do they help you to become a better writer?

Mr. Duncan: No, I’m not a part of a writing community. However, I regularly attend writing conferences.

4. What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Mr. Duncan: I would have to say that How Green Was My Valley is my favorite in that category.  I believe I’m correct that it’s underappreciated today.  Although it was adapted into an academy award winning movie in the late 1930s or early 1940s, I don’t hear much about it today.  It is exquisitely written and the coming of age story is achingly beautiful.

5. Do you want The Last Straw to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a series?  I honestly felt like The Last Straw could be its own standalone novel, or it could be part of a series.

Mr. Duncan: I’m happy that most people think the novel works well as a standalone.  However, it is the second in a trilogy.  The first is Pigeon-Blood Red, which was originally published in 2015 and was later published by my current publisher Creativia in 2017.  I’m currently working (too slowly!) on the third in the trilogy, Rico Stays.  Incidentally, I’ve also written screenplays for all three novels (I completed the one for Rico Stays before writing the novel), and I hope one day to be lucky enough to have them produced.  It’s a long shot but I have my fingers crossed!

Well, Thanks Mr. Duncan for taking the time to answer my questions as well as introducing me to your novel!

Read My Review of “The Last Straw” Here!

Buy “The Last Straw” by Ed Duncan Here!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2) by Ed Duncan

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*No Major Spoilers*

When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking went bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hitman with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

I meant to have this review up last month, however, life happened and I fell behind. I am thrilled and honored to be sharing this novel with my readers today. The Last Straw is a thrilling action-packed novel that is beautifully written in a way where I didn’t feel the need to read the previous novel in the series.

This novel touches on topics such as good vs evil, modern racism, and even how things aren’t as black and white as we like to believe.

“Paul, I’m certain you could have handled that situation without the gun and without fighting. You would have thought of something. You know how I hate seeing you carry a gun. But I’ll suprise you by saying I guess I’m glad you had it just this once to use as a bluff if you really had to, because I’m sure you never would have shot anyone, even if you’re not.”

Paul turned that over in his mind for a moment. “Maybe you know me better than I know myself. I don’t think I could have shot them either. No, I couldn’t. When we were inside [the movie theatre], I was thinking that when I was growing up, I had friends who could have been either one of those two. Hell, I could have been one of them. My father used to say no matter how far you travel, you can never change where you came from. I was so damned angry back there for a while, I almost forgot where I came from.” –The Last Straw

I enjoyed the mystery of how everything and everyone was connected. Seemingly random characters having a part in the grand scheme of the novel held my attention, I felt like it was put together really well. There weren’t too many characters to keep up with and I enjoyed learning about Paul Elliot’s history with Rico and D’Angelo.

My favorite character is Rico. He is a product of his environment, but he does the best he can for those he cares about (whether he acknowledges it or not). He is a hitman who isn’t afraid to tell his boss ‘no’ when a job interferes with his morals.

I liked the fact this novel isn’t afraid to touch on modern racism. Beverly, the mother of the suspected carjacker, confronts both the racism from her past as well as present day. I’m not going to spoil how Beverly is connected to the overall story, but I did enjoy learning her backstory as well.

If you’re looking for an action-packed thrilling mystery, then I would highly recommend The Last Straw. The story will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, and reaching for the tissues at times. This novel is a thriller with a heart.

Buy “The Last Straw” by Ed Duncan HERE!