Monday, March 20, 2017

Speed Metal Blues: A Dan Reno Novel by Dave Stanton - Great Series for Lovers of Hardboiled Crime!

Five minutes later we gunned it out of town under a cobalt blue sky. Cody's tires spitting dirt on the sun-warmed road, the radio blasting "Beer Drinkers and He3ll Raisers" by ZZ Top.
"God, I love this song," Cody said, cranking the volume, his palms pounding on the steering wheel, his green eyes charged with a secret energy, as if he were anticipating a salvation known only to him.
For as long as I'd known Cody, he'd avoided a static lifestyle. Downtime and boredom were his worst enemies. I imagined that in his quiet, solitary moments, perhaps when he was alone in his apartment at night, straight booze ight not be adequate to soothe the wounds of his past. His pain could only be extinguished by action, by confronting his demons, by violence. This was his defense mechanism, how he dealt with the grief of a father who abandoned him and an uncaring mother. Crazy as it sounds, living on the edge provided the balm for his unhealed scars. I'm sure psychology professionals would have a field day with this one, but his method for dealing with his paid was keeping him sane. Hell, in a world where criminally demented acts are routine. Cody was probably saner than most.

Speed Metal Blues:
a Dan Reno Novel

By Dave Stanton

In the world we live in, there is sometimes a fine line between the criminal and the men and women who go after them. Dan Reno and his buddy Cody are both ex-cops who left, fed up with the system in which they worked. Yet these chose to continue the fight against those who would do harm against others. This series is told from the point of view of Dan Reno. These books are definitely from the hard-boiled series, with a mix of noir. Those who enjoy either will, I believe, enjoy meeting Dan and Cody! I didn't mind it myself, either, except it does get violent--so be forewarned, especially due to the nature of two criminals "religion..." Check out his earlier novel Stateline... before you leave!

Dan is trying to make it as a PI and bounty hunter... He had just been contacted to try to find two accused rapists from New Jersey. Actually, both were into much more, including murder. One was a fairly easy find, except for the actual capture activities, that is...

When I finally tracked down Billy Morrison, he was in the middle of the most pit at Zeke's Bar off Highway 50. There must have been thirty sweat-drenched men in there with him, stomping and flailing to the music, their violent energy like a rebellion against humanity. I assumed they considered this dancing, but it looked more like a gang brawl. The death metal band on the small stage pounded out a relentless assault on the ears, the singer's guttural growls imploring the wild-eyes participants to main and kill the weak. My initial instinct told me to retreat to my truck and wait for Morrison to leave. Instead, I waded into the churning melee of knees and fists. That was my first mistake...

Then I saw flashing lights, and Sheriff Marcus Grier's
squad car bounced into the lot. The gangbangers
slowly retreated.
"What the hell is going on here?" Grier said, stepping
from his car, his hand on his holstered revolver.
"Good timing, Sheriff," I said. "This here is Billy
Morrison. He's got warrants in New Jersey for rape,
robbery and assault."
"You got paper on him?"
"Yes, sir. He skipped two months ago."
"What happened to his leg?" Grier said, his black
skin shining in the moonlight.
"He fuckin' shot me," I gestured to a group of about
ten men standing in front of Zeke's. They glared back,
arms crossed, feet planted wide. One shot his arm
straight out, middle finger extended.
"Did you have to shoot him?"
"I could have just curled up and let them kick the shit
out of me, I suppose."
Dan had thought there would be a slower pace and some quiet times when he moved to South Lake Tahoe. Fortunately he had made a positive connection with Sheriff Grier and was able to work with him, sharing and gathering information. What really was the issue was that the little town had become a route for trafficking drugs and the Mexicans were firmly entrenched. Until a group calling themselves the HCU [Hard Core United], had moved in, looking to take over... It was the HCU that had adopted rapist Morrison. And Reno wound up facing the whole group when he tried to leave with Billy. He was backing out, trying to leave, using his gun to control the crowd...not sure of the outcome, when he saw slashing lights and the Sheriff's squad car moving fast into the parking lot... Whew!

There are a number of minor characters that include the son of a former assassin and a brother-sister pair who have been befriended by Dan and Cody... Good thing!
Because the other rapist is also a Satanist and believes, and seems, he is unable to die! And he has set his eyes on the sister, who has become known because she's to be now working as a lounge singer in the Casino where all the action is taking place!

Seriously, the violence in this novel is not for some readers, but the story itself is a great novel for its genre. Readers will have to decide on this one. Myself, I always enjoy a novel with the good guys versus the bad guys...this one just gets more hard core than I would recommend to everyone.

There's more time at the Nevada bordellos, hard-core criminals versus the Mexican cartel seeing who will win the town, and even the mafia hiding under "new management." Cody is an interesting sidekick for Dan...In this novel, he has just discovered he may be a father and that causes him to take the brother-sister duet under his special care...

There was enough warm, caring scenes to keep the violence counter-balanced. Do check this one out!

"You know what?" Time to turn on the christmas lights."
"In October?"
I got up and hit the switches, and the bults laced around the trees outside came alive, the colors flashing and reflecting off the snow-covered ground.
"It's just beautiful, isn't it?" Candy said, her green eyes dancing in a kaleidoscope of red and blue. The jukebox kicked into Hank Williams Jr.'s "Family Tradition," and the twang of the fiddle brought a smile to my face...
As for my own life, I stay happy on a daily basis, and why the hell not? My house among the tall pines and granite faces is cheerful with a woman's touch, and I'm thankful every day for that. Damn thankful, because change is an inevitable as the turning of the season. That evil might again invade my life I have little doubt, but I never invest myself in that thought. That keeps me sane I suppose, or as close as I'll get.


Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960, Dave Stanton moved to Northern California in 1961. He attended San Jose State University and received a BA in journalism in 1983. Over the years, he worked as a bartender, newspaper advertising salesman, furniture mover, pizza cook, debt collector, and technology salesman. He has two children, Austin and Haley, and lives with his wife, Heidi, in San Jose, California.

Stanton is the author of five novels, all featuring private investigator Dan Reno and his ex-cop buddy, Cody Gibbons.

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