Wednesday, 3 July 2019

JOE CLIFFORD - RAG AND BONE (2019)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Perfect for fans of Dennis Lehane

Having spent ten months on the run after he was framed for the murder of an estate-clearing associate, handyman Jay Porter returns to his hometown of Ashton, New Hampshire. During his time as a fugitive, he searched for a hard drive - evidence that would put his longtime nemeses Adam and Michael Lombardi behind bars. But he came up empty handed.

He has nothing. No hard drive, no hope. He hasn't spoken to his ex-wife and son in almost a year and he's broke. With his reputation tarnished and employment opportunities nonexistent, Jay takes a charity assignment from old friend/flame Alison Rodgers and learns of a fire at Alison's former rehab farm. Jay is convinced that the Lombardis started a fire as a scare tactic to pressure Alison to sell. As Jay begins to look into the origins of the fire, he hopes he will finally be able to put away his enemies. But he soon discovers that evil isn't so easy to define, and that sometimes we need to take the law into our own hands if we want justice.

The fifth in the author's Jay Porter series and my first, which in truth did me no favours coming into the series ass backwards. Jay Porter's back in town; innocent after an enforced exile on the run and he still has a hard-on for the Lombardi brothers.

Solitude, unemployment, town pariah, skint, paranoid, pity party, a brief family reunion, police hostility, a lost business, an online contact feeding information, bereavement, grief, loss, drinking, an old flame, a bitter divorce, a suspicious fire, another investigation and another opportunity - he thinks - to try and bring the local king pins down.

An okay read, but one which I didn't really feel too bothered about. The main man, Porter has his history and issues - borderline alcoholic (?), but functioning and give him his due he's determined, but I think it's one of those series books that doesn't stand up too well on its again. It's a feeling reinforced by the ending offering an outcome in respect of the Lombardi brothers time at the top of the heap. Porter vs the Lombardis is an over-riding series ARC. The more relevant - to this book at least - mystery of the fire is solved in addition. It is demonstrably over-shadowed by the bigger picture.

Elements were enjoyable. The relationship between Porter and the local police chief (sheriff?), at times hostile, other times almost friendly kept my interest. The relationship with his ex-wife I found less so.

Pace ok, setting ok.

I kind of felt an indifference to the main character though, something that would probably have been avoided if I had started with Lamentation, the series opener.

3 from 5

I've enjoyed a short story collection from Joe Clifford way, way back - Choice Cuts - in 2013.

I will read more from him in the future, including the earlier Jay Porter books. Maybe with that context behind me this one will have a different feel.

Read - June, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 256
Source - Edelweiss Above the Treeline early reviewer site, courtesy of Ocean Publishing
Format - ePub on laptop

9 comments:

  1. That's the thing, isn't it, Col. If you're not invested in the main character, it's really hard to deeply involve yourself in a story. Still, I'm glad there were things about this that you liked.

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    1. Yes Margot. I was a tad disappointed with this one, but it hasn't put me off reading the author again.

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  2. One of the reasons I tend to be wary of series novels is precisely this incompleteness you talk about. In my yoof I might willingly go into a series knowing I was committing myself to a 48-book story arc to find out if Our Hero ever did discover the Dragon Sword of the Humongous Runemaster and thus win the hand of the Princess Delicia; these days I want all novels to work as standalones!

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    1. Yeah. I should have listened to my inner OCD and ignored this one until a later date. I am a bit of a series fan, but must avoid leaping about.

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  3. Having read all of Joe’s books in this series, I would honestly say that for this series, you really do have to start with Lamentation

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    1. Yes, I sensed quite early on that I made a mistake here. Oh well, live and learn.

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  4. It irritates when publishers compare the author to another author. In this case, I have difficulty reading Dennis Lehane books even though he writes exceedingly well. So I would not want to try this author based on their recommendation.

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    1. I suppose for every reader they suck in, they run the risk of alienating someone else. I used to find that the comparisons to some authors, ie Elmore Leonard would once upon a time have me auto purchase. At least now all they do is either make me pick the book up or avoid.

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