I thought I’d read something by Brita Addams before but after seeing I hadn’t reviewed anything of theirs, apparently Addams is a new to me author. Great! I’m pretty pleased and surprised by how much I liked this little novella. It’s interesting and sucked me in immediately. I actually finished the entire story when all I meant to do was read a few pages to get the concept. I’m curious to see where the story goes from here and what else this author has to offer. It’s not a perfect story, nor one I loved unconditionally, but it’s entertaining and engaging. It’s one I would read again and would recommend to other readers.
The setting is LA in the 1930s gangster era. Frankie has been a gangster since he was 13 and 5 years ago was sent from NY to LA to set up shop for the mob there. Frankie’s been doing pretty well for himself, too well in fact. Frankie’s boss decides that Frankie is too high profile and not giving enough money to his higher ups. Now Frankie’s death sentence is hanging over his head, to be carried out by his old friend and ex-lover, Gent. Neither Frankie nor Gent wants to die but this is the life they lead and the one they signed up for.
Right away I was impressed with the feel and atmosphere Addams created. The front of the novella has a glossary of words. I didn’t need this but funny enough there were other phrases and words not included in the glossary that had me lost for a moment. Still, the time frame and authentic feel of the people definitely came through. The writing is engaging with only a few cases where it seems to try a bit too hard. Some of the dialogue is littered with slang, almost comprised entirely of it but I didn’t mind this. For me it just added to the atmosphere and tension.
Although this is the only book I’ve read by the author, I think this is part of a greater series. Tarnished Souls can easily be read as a standalone and I had no problems with it but I had the feeling one of the main characters, MacGreggor, probably starred in his own book previously. That said I quite enjoyed the characterization of Frankie and Gent. They’re two mobsters that have no qualms lying, cheating, stealing, and killing other people. They’re definitely not good guys by any stretch of the definition but the story did an impressive job of humanizing the two men to the point I easily rooted for them. I even disliked the cop, who was the only nominal good guy in the story, simply because he opposed the two protagonists.
I liked that the story didn’t try to make excuses for the men but let them be who they were; not good men and they weren’t redeemed by the end but still interesting characters. The descriptive quality of the writing is good and definitely caught my attention and desire to read more from this author. I also want to know more about where Frankie and Gent go from the ending of the book. I wasn’t sure what would happen, if one or both men would die honestly, and the ending is hopeful but realistic. No doubt the next installment will be just as entertaining and filled with good tension. I’m looking forward to more books in the series and would recommend this for fans looking to read something a little different but engaging.