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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review and FREE Offer for New Crime Novel

South on Pacific Coast Highway
By Gary Paul Corcoran
Stargazer Press
338 Pages

Reviewed by Joe Hempel, originally for Top of the Heap Reviewshttp://topoftheheapreviews.com/  

Crime novels can be tricky.  You have to keep the reader engaged the plot, and tell a smart and compelling story with characters that are relate-able.  How does Gary Paul Corcoran’s first foray into this complex genre fair? 
The first in a series of throwback crime novels, inspired by the Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spades of the author’s youth, Michael is himself a throwback private detective, preferring persistence to gadgetry and brains over guns and brawn. Operating a one man shop out of Laurel Lagoon, modeled after Laguna Beach, CA, South On Pacific Coast Highway is at once an affectionate ode to everything LA, from the cookie cutter communities to the seedy shops dotting the beach towns along that stretch of coastline, a portrait of the moral and cultural arc of Southern California from the sixties to the growing disillusionment of contemporary times, and lastly, on a personal level, it is simply the tale of a man haunted by a woman’s uncanny resemblance to the redhead he once loved.

Self described as a crime “throwback” novel, you can easily grab comparisons to Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe.  From the way Michael Devlin draws his conclusions, his interactions with the other characters, and his internal monologues, you grab that smokey, gritty world of the under-paid and under-appreciated PI almost immediately.  That in itself is worth the price of admission here.  It pays respectful homage to crime novels of the past.

The plot in itself starts out fairly simple.  Michael Devlin’s friend is thrown in jail for murdering his wife, and he is out to clear his name.  What happens is a couple more murders, a romance between Devlin and a redheaded bombshell, and international arms dealers that stretches from Mexico to Russia.

How Gary connects point A to point B with all the twists and turns in between is something to read.  Usually first or even second time authors have trouble linking things together, and you have to make a leap of faith in order to accept the conclusion.  That doesn’t happen with this book.  Every move that is made is calculated, and makes logical sense.  By the time the finale happens you don’t have to wonder how Michael got there, it was well mapped out.

This is not to say that it’s not going to throw you along the way.  Each character has their own motives, their voice, and they are all interconnected in some way.  You’ll be second guessing yourself throughout the entire experience.

The characters are all brought out well.  Even the villains are a little likeable at times.  Gary is able to create separation and distinction to each character so you are never confused as to who is in what scene.

The romantic tension is done incredibly well.  There is no gratuitous sex, but you know that the sex is wild, loud and passionate without the book turning into erotica.  You feel for Michael as we wrestles with whether or not he should get involved, and you feel the consequences right along with him and his decisions.

The Bottom Line:  Quick wit, smart plotting, and prose that reflects his influences in crime, South on Pacific Coast Highway is one book that you’ll not want to put down.  When the final pages are turned, you’ll want to re-visit Michael in another book and follow him to find out if he finds peace, if he finds true love, and if he can come to terms with life around him.

20 Free Copies of South on Pacific Coast Highway!

That's right! The first 20 people to click on the "Contact" button of the author’s website and leave a brief hello, along with their name and e-mail address, will be gifted a free copy of South on Pacific Coast Highway! Be sure to specify the e-book format of your choice! And when they're gone, they're gone!   http://garypaulcorcoran.com/

Also, please note. It is the author's stated policy. No spam. No sharing of contact information with any third parties, for any reason and no unwarranted contacts going forward.
The product of an Irish/Italian family, Mr. Corcoran was transplanted as a boy from the clapboard New England of his youth to the cookie cutter, stucco subdivisions that began to litter the disappearing ranches and orange groves south of Los Angeles in the 1960s. True to his rebellious nature and the folk music/coffee house idealism that helped shape his early worldview, Mr. Corcoran chose to resist the Vietnam War, was a man without a country for several years as the result and can count incarceration in a Mexican prison as one of his many colorful experiences from that era.

Having pursued a love of reading and writing in various forms all his life, Mr. Corcoran finally sat down to take this passion seriously around the turn of the millennium and has dedicated the remainder of his days to authorship. As the result of his rough and tumble experiences in life and his undying affection for the fairer sex, adventure romance would best describe the character of Mr. Corcoran’s work.

Mr. Corcoran currently resides in Laguna Beach, California but fancies completing the circle one day soon and settling into a little cottage in the woods of New England.

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