A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Harrow's back

In the wake of their spectacular, dramatic, but hard-earned success the year before (chronicled in the first book in the series, You Can’t Stop Me), television personality J.C. Harrow and his reality TV cohorts take on another huge challenge in Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens' fast-paced, involving No One Will Hear You. It’s actually more than one challenge, as two serial killers surface to taunt the cast and crew of the “Crime Seen” crime-busting show.

Making things even more interesting is the fact that the killers appear at a vulnerable time for the “Crime Seen” gang, as its various members, including Harrow himself, are discussing whether the good the show accomplishes (putting criminals behind bars, or in the ground) is worth all the nonsense being a TV celebrity entails. Additional texture, also entertaining, comes from the many developments in the personal lives of the ongoing cast that have occurred between the first two books and also during the course of this one. In other words, yes, you get a little romance this time. But don’t worry, it’s snappy, fun, and sexy, not syrupy and eye-rolling stuff.

But we’re never long away from the intense elements of Collins and Clemens’ darkly entertaining story. Longtime collaborators on the “CSI” and “NCIS” tie-in novels (as well as other TV-based novels), I’m guessing that the two writers are really enjoying not having to clear their storylines with television producers and license holders, and can just cut loose with their imaginations now that they’ve created their own crime-solving team with J.C. Harrow and company.

If that’s the case, it shows. The characters (whether good or bad) have depth and complexity; the pacing and action start with high energy right out of the box and then intensify; and the many scary scenarios are, well… very scary. In other words, if you’re in the mood for a cute, “cozy”-style mystery, look elsewhere. Not that you don’t get a clever mystery here, too, because you do (another asset). But this mystery is laced with glinting knives, breakneck thrills, and insane killers with a taste for the theatrical.

If you like the adjectives frightening, creepy, and terrifying when describing the kinds of literary rollercoaster rides you like to dive into on occasion, you can’t go wrong with No One Will Hear You. The first book in the series was a solid, memorable effort, but this one is even better. Here’s hoping for more J.C. Harrow and company in the near future.

No One Will Hear You is available in paperback for $7.99 and the bargain price of $4.58 on Kindle.

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