Acts of Violence by Ross Harrison

Published: 20th January 2014Goodreads badge
 Self Published
Pages: 190
Format: ebook
Genre: Noir Thriller
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

My name’s Jack Mason. I made a mistake. Took home the wrong girl. Now she’s dead. Cut up. And they’re telling me I did it. 

It’s the same cop that tried to take me down ten years ago. Now he’s coming at me hard. And he’s not the only one. Cole Webster, the city’s crime lord, thinks I stole from him. Broke me out of custody just to ask me about it. Then I killed his son. Now he really wants me. 

Add to this equation a government agent, and I’m a real popular guy right now. Pretty much everyone I meet wants me dead, lawfully or otherwise. There’s nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. I’ve got till morning to uncover Webster’s trafficking operation and take the heat off me. And all I’ve got to go on is a pissed off homeless girl with a thirst for revenge. 

Guess it could be worse. Can’t quite figure how.

Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review

Acts of Violence is a thrilling story that grabs your attention from the early pages and doesn’t release its grip until the final page. Told from the voice of Jack Mason it explores the run down world of Harem and the efforts of Jack to clear his name of a suspected crime, all the while running from those who wish to harm him.

With Jack as a clearly unreliable narrator it is hard to trust what he says. He is smart, cocky, and extremely sarcastic but there is certainly more to him than he originally lets on and it is evident he has secrets of his own. Despite all this though somehow he remains an alluring character and through his determination to clear his name it’s hard not to find sympathy for Jack and see his point of view and Harrison actually makes you hope for his success.

Every character is perceived as having secrets and a suspicious nature, something which living in Harem is likely to do. They are rough around the edges, all trying to make a living or survive in the world and not get caught up with crime bosses and corruption. With no certainty who to trust and the only real opinion we can work from is Jack’s, it makes the narrative even more intriguing than it already is.

While being a noir thriller for the most part, there are science fiction elements. The setting of the novel apparently takes place in the universe of Harrison’s NEXUS series, but there is no real explanation offered within the story of this nor does there need to be. Instead, there are little hints and clues seamlessly placed throughout that explain Harem’s situation and its place in the universe as well as the types of technologies they have there. These small references are more than enough, certainly since the narrative focus is on Jack and his situation rather than the world itself, and it is easy enough to fill in the gaps and piece together the snippets provided.

Being set in a strange world with unknown and different laws and practices automatically adds an element of suspense because it means anything is possible and anything could happen. With Harem’s corruption and decay there is always a chance at surprises and Harrison keeps the intrigue and intensity high through the entire story with untold secrets and half-truths.

After Jack is given his ultimatum there is less than 24 hours for him to find evidence to clear his name which only heightens the narrative and while it brings a wonderful sense of urgency, it also makes you realise how long a night can be. Harrison does not rush anything but he still manages to pack a lot of action into those hours. There is a lot of violence but at the same time it is not dwelled upon. The body count is high but Harrison avoids the graphic descriptions and those that are described are done to a minimum and with a purpose.

One thing I loved with this novel was the descriptions. Harrison has a fantastic skill in describing scenes and actions with a few choice words that capture a moment perfectly, everything from pulling out a chair to the sound of a thunderstorm. The descriptions of Harem itself are also quite vivid and illustrate the city remarkably well. Even when the surroundings are bleak and it does nothing but rain a clear image is formed that brings you right into the story alongside Jack. Harrison also manages to bring to life the decadence of Harem almost without stating it obviously, weaving bits of information naturally throughout.

The gripping and intense style of storytelling means there is always more to everything than it first appears. This is a novel that keeps it secrets close and is not afraid to keep offering up surprises until the very end. The science fiction elements take a backseat to this fascinating thriller and yet it makes it all that more interesting because of them. Harrison has created a novel that is fascinating and adventurous and certainly never short of suspense or the unexpected.

You can purchase Acts of Violence via the following

Amazon UK


Amazon AUS


Barnes and Noble


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