Review: Disintegration: A Windy City Dark Mystery

Disintegration: A Windy City Dark Mystery
Disintegration: A Windy City Dark Mystery by Richard Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Richard Thomas’s novel, DISINTEGRATION, is a harrowing glimpse into a dark and desolate underworld that is threaded through our very own everyday lives and yet is always at the periphery of our vision. Set in Chicago and its environs, it is a study in how quickly and easily an average man can be stripped down and molded into a killer.

“Nobody leaves me, except for the earth. Got it, big man? You work for me forever.”

The unnamed protagonist in the novel is a deeply troubled man, but is our hero nonetheless. He is cold and ruthless and efficient, but in this dark storm of a narrative, the clouds part often enough to see his humanity. Thomas is a prolific storyteller, and skilled in many genres, but after reading DISINTEGRATION, it seems clear that the neo-noir genre, in his capable hands, is deadliest of all. Fans of Will Christopher Baer will find much to love in this novel, although there is a distinct difference between them, which is the often poetic way that DISINTEGRATION is written. An example:

“A flash of headlights, the squeal of tires on pavement, and the windshield of my car is filled with the sun. Metal screams and glass tinkles the air, I’m a feather drifting in a slow-moving current, I’m a fragile egg, cracked on the counter, shell splintering into tiny jagged pieces. The muted mass of the minivan in front of me is gone from my vision in the blink of an eye. Nothing remains. It’s all gone. A kaleidoscope of gray and white, slices of red and pinpoint pain scatters across my body.
‘Hey, guys,’ I mutter to the graves.”

If you’re into dark, gritty, character-driven crime novels, you need to add this one to your e-reader. If it ever becomes available in paperback, it should come with bourbon stains on the pages, cigarette burns on the cover, and smelling of gunpowder. That is the kind of book DISINTEGRATION is.

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