STARRED REVIEW
May 07, 2019

Black Mountain

By Les Standiford
Review by

Isaiah Coleridge may have gone legit as a private investigator, but his past life as a mob enforcer dies hard. When he’s hired to investigate a killing that mimics a prior hit, his former bosses expect results—failure to please them is not an option. Coleridge digs in, but what he finds is not typical mafia tit-for-tat but something much darker. Black Mountain is a thriller that gets uncomfortably close to pure evil and lets you breathe in the stench.

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Isaiah Coleridge may have gone legit as a private investigator, but his past life as a mob enforcer dies hard. When he’s hired to investigate a killing that mimics a prior hit, his former bosses expect results—and failure to please them is not an option. Coleridge digs in, but what he finds is not typical mafia tit-for-tat but something much darker. Black Mountain is a thriller that gets uncomfortably close to pure evil and lets you breathe in the stench.

Laird Barron (Blood Standard) doesn’t spare his half-Maori hero much. The story opens with Coleridge taking a bullet while defending himself against a pair of thugs, but he can be tender if guarded with his girlfriend and her young son. When Coleridge follows the trail of what turns out to be a serial killer, it leads him into a labyrinthine world of sophisticated weapons that can debilitate with sound or light, though they’re being used by someone who is also masterful with a knife.

The ugliness of the human condition contrasts with the gorgeous Hudson Valley, and Coleridge’s country shack is a refuge from the people who so often cross his path. His office, though, is a noir gem straight out of Hammett or Chandler, right down to the smoky glass in the door, and he has run-ins with a showgirl cut from similar cloth. After a harrowing showdown as the chase concludes, there’s a scene so tender it nearly induced whiplash. For all the darkness in Black Mountain, it has a hero who burns bright.

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Black Mountain

Black Mountain

By Les Standiford
Putnam
ISBN 9780399145841

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