We learn in school of the Newton’s law of motion that tells us that every action has an equal opposite reaction. This law can be applied in physics but also in real life. It is our decisions and what we do with them that could come back and impact out life. This is just something you’d think is common sense, but there are those who do not believe it.
One such character is a man who loves his drink, his wife, other women, and just life in general. He’s the type of man that will take opportunities to watch women walk by and decide if he’d “do” them. The problem with his mindset is that he needs pharmaceutical help when that moment comes, but that doesn’t stop him. He’s also the type who wouldn’t give a beggar a dime if the man was dying. This man’s name is Gerard (Ger) Mayes and he’s in for a rude awakening on how actions have opposite reactions.
Ger is the main character in the book Peril and it’s follow up Getting out of Dodge by author Ruby Barnes. The books combined tell a great story and is the reason why they are being combined in the review for the books.
Peril is the opening “salvo” in this series. The book takes you into Ger’s life and the opening helps set the seen on what is to come within the pages. The opening begins with a drunken fight Ger has with a beggar on the street demanding money. Ger is broke after drinking the money away that night and has no time for this foolishness. The Romanian beggar is persistent and a fight breaks out where it becomes obvious this is to the death.
The book then steps back in time and introduces the reader to the bulk of the main characters at a dinner gathering. There is Ger’s wife Jo, his best friend Tom, Jo’s friend Renee, and Aunt Mary. During the dinner the conversation turns to the recent increase in beggars in the area and the merits on helping them. The conversation is rather interesting and well written and gives a glimpse of what you will find throughout the book not just in writing style but the characters.
In Peril, Ger is forced to live by the decisions he makes and must face the consequences of each of them. The strange thing is the whole disaster starts the day he gives one of those beggars he sees some money going against what he had preached at dinner. This will lead Ger into the underworld of blackmail and drug smuggling and will help him find out more about his friends than he ever knew.
Peril is a great read as Ruby Barnes ties together this “scoundrel” of a man who has no problem sleeping with his wife’s best friend. A man who drags his best friend into the whole torrid affair to only find out there could be more to Tom than he ever knew. Of course with what will occur within these pages, the police will come calling. The elements of dark humor will involve these men just as well as some of the one-liners Ger delivers. One such instance is what I called “The Case of the Missing China.”
Peril ends leaving the reader to wonder what truly became of Ger, and the book Getting out of Dodge is more than happy to fill in those gaps. The biggest question answered as you start the book is where Ger spent the last nine years.
The re-entry into society shows that Ger has not learned much while being out of the “loop”. He finds himself falling hard back into old routines and his libido continues to rule much of his actions. It doesn’t take long for him to get involved with a few women and eventually those same people that took him down in Peril.
Here again we the reader is introduced to a new set of characters that fit like square pegs into Ger’s life. He seems to not have learned much from his first adventures with some of these same types of individuals as he welcomes them in with not much in the way of a fight. In fact he welcomes some of them in with open arms it will appear to the reader.
As in Peril, Getting out of Dodge, will take Ger back into the underworld and lead him into a lot of trouble. A few old foes and a “friend” reappear in this book and the main difference with Ger is he’s 9 years old but not the wiser. A person can get that feeling when he is found on a bench, beaten and holding a bag with a head inside. This of course does not paint a pretty portrait but somehow the reader will feel for Ger and will continue to hope he somehow comes out on top.
Ruby Barnes does a great job of using Ireland as a great setting for both books. Those who have not gone to the country will find themselves imagining the locations that Barnes puts into words. The other great thing is although the books appear dark; there are spots of brilliant dark humor. There are jokes that may cause an audible laugh when you come across them while reading. This is one of the reasons a reader will find themselves in Ger’s corner no matter how STUPID the man appears to be.
Those fans of suspense, murder, mystery and crime novels will enjoy these two well written books. They also have a small sense of the classic Noir stories that set many a dime store crime novels flying off the shelves back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The stories are set in a modern world but the mixture of elements works in a Noir setting. These are two books that are well developed although could stand alone the best way to enjoy them is read them in order.