Neutral Ground Publishing | 2021
Filed Under: Benny might think I’m a rat.
To be fair, I’m not really into mob shit. I’m not sure why – that’s a lie. I am sure why, but I would never dare to go off on the mob online where my identity is easily determined lest I end up in cement shoes, swimming with the fishes or whatever it is the mob does to you. Shoot you in the head and stuff you in a trunk and leave the car down by the docks? What docks? Any docks really.
But, for sure, organized crime stories are just not my thing.
Did you ever see that episode of Family Guy where everyone finds out Peter doesn’t like The Godfather and they are all flabbergasted? Their house is flooding but they can only talk about Peter not liking The Godfather.
Peter says, “It insists upon itself.”
And that’s basically it. I am Peter in this. Like, Oh, tough guys doing tough guy shit outside the law, killing people and controlling all the unions and all dressing the same. Where’s my gold chain?
But also please don’t kill me, mob people reading this.
That said, this novel is fine. So, let’s keep some perspective here between you knowing I’m a terrible person and that it takes a lot for me to give four and five stars. It is what it is. Meatballs.
Angel Blondeaux is an FBI agent who just so happens to come from a mob family. They’ve disowned her, because duh. You can’t have an FBI agent in a mob family. The Blondeaux et al clan run a Louisiana parish. They own the cops, the lawyers, fucking everyone is on the payroll, so good luck doing anything legit or fair or legal. But also, is that so bad? Are we really doing law and order well? LOL NO. Unless you’re Dick Wolf, then yes. But we don’t have time to get into all that…
So to recap, being in the mob is bad. The FBI wants to take them down and to do so, the higher-ups getting the big bucks send in Agent Blondeaux with the assignment to pretend she’s betrayed the FBI and wants in on her family’s business. She’s got to get the dirt. The deets. The 411. The… you get it.
It’s some undercover, badass boss bitch shit.
At the same time as this undercover sting, there is a 30-year-old mystery in the parish just begging to be solved. A bus full of high school baseball players disappeared and it may or may not have something to do with Agent Blondeaux’s criminal family. (It does.)
This novel has a lot going on – mob business, FBI business, a little romance, a murderous old woman heading up a mafia family, cold cases, weird borderline-incest entanglements… If you’re into all of that, you’ll find much to enjoy, but it might have also been too much for me because it lacked depth. But I’m happy to say, not once does the female MC talk about her nipples or any tingles between her legs.
That’s a definite plus.
What I didn’t vibe with is that this novel didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. A thriller? A family drama? It wasn’t fast-paced enough to be a thriller. It lacks twists and the deep details of executing an undercover operation. I would have loved for the focus of this to have been solely on the FBI’s sting – give me clandestine meetings, wiretaps, close calls when Agent B is almost caught. But none of that is explored, and ultimately it seems like the police work is an afterthought to the family drama. There’s no suspense, no spice.
The family drama, however, isn’t complex enough to deserve the bulk of the attention. There is something to the reading experience that feels surface. There was so much to explore in the roots of this twisted family tree, but we never went there.
The narrative is really driven by dialogue, which is definitely my taste, but I found some of the dialogue didn’t flow naturally or was a bit too pretentious so as to obscure the fucking point of the conversation. I was missing some inner thoughts to create tension, specifically when it came to the romance element between Agent Blondeaux and her lawyer fuck buddy. But honestly, the relationship element barely needed to exist and I wouldn’t have been upset if it was cut out completely. Not every story requires a romance subplot. And here, it escalated too quickly and sacrificed emotional build-up in the process. If the romance had been swapped out to explore the criminal investigation aspect instead, that would have been peachy.
I liked Angel as an MC though. She has potential as a series lead and I would love to see her become more 3-dimensional with backstory, explored motivations and a developed inner-self to frame out the story and ground it in a tangible personality.
Overall, not a bad book. Check it out if you’re into mob shit and family complications.
How does the disappearance of nineteen high school baseball players remain a mystery for thirty years?
Angel Blondeaux had been taught since birth to never betray family, only to escape the clutches of home to become an FBI agent. For generations, Blondeaux has been the name to respect in Moreau Parish, and the name to fear. Crime is no longer a part of life, but a lifestyle, woven into the fabric of the parish. So, when Angel Blondeaux had graduated Quantico, she was rejected by the family like a bad organ.
The matriarch of the Blondeaux clan is Angel’s grandmother Paulette. Paulette’s successor was to be Angel’s Aunt Lorna until her mysterious death places the role of heir up for grabs. The FBI forces Angel to return home for her aunt’s funeral, only to discover a new will has been drafted, leaving Angel the house and an immense plot of land, along with the buried secrets from years past.
Book Source: The author in exchange for a review.