Cancel the wedding. The groom is dead. When a tycoon’s son is murdered the night before his wedding, the grief-stricken father offers private detective Dan Reno a life-changing bounty to find the killer.
Reno, who is nearly broke, decides he’s finally found himself in the right place at the right time. But when a band of crooked cops get involved, Reno finds himself fighting for his life. Who committed the murder, and why? Which cops can he trust, if any?
Haunted by his murdered father and a violent past, Reno wants no more blood on his hands. But a man’s got to make a living, and backing off is not in his DNA.
Traversing the snowy alpine winter in the Sierras and the lonely deserts of Nevada, Reno must revert to his old ways to survive. Because the bounty won’t do him much good if he’s dead.
A solid entry into the genre from Stanton.
Stateline revels in its very overt Americana throughout. It seems intended to be a fun read, and it is for the most part and makes great use of a variety of locations, which I really enjoyed seeing.
The main character, Dan Reno, drinker, damaged, unlikable PI. Yeah we’ve been here before, but the stereotype is pitch-perfect for the novel Stanton has written.
Written in first-person, past-tense throughout, the style and POV is a staple of the genre, and one I unfortunately rarely enjoy. For me the writing style enfolds the reader in a security that the main character, despite whatever jeopardy they’re placed in, has survived the tale being told. Too often this choice can kill the feeling of any real peril. As a personal preference, I think the story would’ve benefitted from switching to a third-person perspective, or keeping first person and switching to present tense.
I’m sure I’m in the minority on this point, and Stanton’s story is certainly very well-written and flows well.
What Stanton does do very well indeed is present his readers an incredibly pacey, whirlwind of a story that ends far too soon for this reader, such was the extent with which it drew me in.
The dialogue is excellent throughout and, despite a few inconsistencies, Reno begins to be established as a character who might have something more to him than the stereotypes we are presented with as his main qualities during this first instalment of the series. I don’t need well-rounded lead characters, I’m happy if they’re a work in progress, and Reno is certainly a character I feel has much to be disclosed about his past, motives and frailties.
If being honest, Stateline was more of a 3.5 stars for me, simply because of the handling of the female characters in this book. At times, poorly-represented, often simply used to push plot or character development forward, the women who occupy Stanton’s novel weren’t allowed any real motivation or any tangible purpose of their own. Several could have added so much more to the story if allowed to do so.
Tightly-plotted and oozing character, Stanton’s Stateline was an enjoyable standalone read, and a competent first entry in a series that has the potential for some great character development.
Like its protagonist, flawed, but all the better for those flaws.
Stateline is available now form Bloodhound Books and Amazon