Saturday, 29 June 2013

ePulp Review of the Week - Ten A Week Steale by Stephen Jared.

Ten A Week StealeTen A Week Steale by Stephen Jared
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*E-Pulp Warning* All my e-reading is e-pulp focused so my reviews are written with e-pulp in mind. Reader beware :) *E-Pulp Warning*

Overall: 4 stars (Recommend).

Ten A Week Steale is a great little noir story set in 1920s Hollywood, authentically capturing the mood and the city as Steale does what hard-boiled men do. Hollywood is captured brilliantly by someone who obviously loves the genre and the setting and, although it's not the fastest or pulpiest story around, it's well worth a look.

Pacing and Action: 3 stars.

To be honest, the story probably wasn't written as a pulp story. At least not dialled up to 'Full Throttle' which makes 3 stars a little awkward. By the standards of any other genre this has plenty of fisticuffs and dames, villains and other action galore. But by pulp standards there's a lot of thinking and brooding and contemplating the nature of life etc. None of this detracts from the story in any way but it does lack that pulpy extreme.

Pulp Concept: 4 stars.

Steale isn't a Private Investigator cliche and the use of 1920s Hollywood rather than the 30s are both nice touches that give Steale his own road to walk. The back story also makes all of what happens completely plausible as the hard-boiled action ensues. It's classic era setting and the easy action tropes it allows all come together for a pulp concept that, while not ground-breaking, certainly does the job.

Then there's the setting. First class. The author clearly has a love for this era and this town and it shows from the details sprinkled throughout. You don't drown in it but the sense that you're wandering through these gaudy temples to the new demi-gods of their age is palpable. Fantastic stuff that begs to be explored further.

Character Development: 4 stars.

Related to the pacing this is a book that has plenty of character development and a fair bit of introspection and self awareness. Being noir-ish tends to do that :) The characters are well rounded, have plausible motivations and personalities and they are all indelibly tied to the world in which they exist and it works very well.

Production: 5 stars.

Have you seen that cover? Wow. Gorgeous. Eye catching, era relevant and professional. And that's a sentence you could use to describe the whole package. It's been edited properly and is a quality production all round.

Series Potential: 3 stars.

This is where I'm guessing the story was not originally intended as a straight up pulp story. While there's definitely space to produce sequels and create a series - and the author's familiarity with the setting BEGS for SOMETHING set in 1920s Hollywood - the story does little to set up a serialised status quo. While this isn't an issue for people not interested in the pulpier side of life, for those of us who are it's another indicator that, while a good read, it's not straight up pulp.

Wrap Up.

A good, entertaining story that anyone with an interest in noir or hard-boiled detectives should like, with an interesting twist thanks to the setting and atypical era. Not to take from this though, it's not the pulpiest story going, even if it is of the highest quality.

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