It's early 1944 and Richmond, Virginia is a devil's paradise. Ration scams and police corruption are rampant while the inflated black market commands top dollar.
Detective Sergeant Bennie Sherwood, fresh off a soul-scarring tour of duty with the Marines, couldn't care less. His old man was recently murdered under suspect circumstances, and he's on a hunt for the truth.
But then an old friend is killed during a botched black market raid and Bennie is thrust onto a hellride through Richmond's underworld. Suddenly, he's at the front lines of a new kind of war, one that's played out in gentlemen's clubs and back alleys between tobacco kingpins and numbers runners.
It's a dark, twisted journey that will test Bennie's every limit, even as it gets him closer to the truth about his father...
Until, that is, he's framed for murder.
Now the subject of a citywide manhunt, Bennie must choose - disappear into the shadows and succumb to his fractured mind, or confront his darkest fears and root out the evil that has infested his city.
©2016 Ward Howarth (P)2017 Ward Howarth
Returning home after a stint in the fighting of World War 2, 1943, Benny Sherwood is injured more in mind than body. His constant night terrors took him back to the jungles and the constant Japanese threat, and these fears even infiltrated his waking hours when he was under duress, the feeling of danger, of being watched and even faces of people he knew morphing into murderous Japanese, causing him to freeze up in fear or even pass out. All of which made his new job that much more difficult. Because Benny signed on as a cop, made detective by virtue of his war record, and that of his father, another well respected cop in the area, who had recently been murdered. That case was still unsolved. Benny intended to find out who killed him.
This is a fabulous story set in the dark days of wartime, where black marketeering was rife as well as youth gangs, racial prejudice, homosexually kept hidden, prostitution and robbery as well as dance halls and jazz, corruption and murder. And the constant sadnesses of the telegram to tell that a loved one would not be coming home. The author captures the dark atmosphere perfectly, the poverty, desperation and the need to find release in some instant gratification. It is a thriller and a mystery, well, more than one: there are murders to be solved and always that one killing closest to Benny's heart: the death of his dad. The book is complex and twisting, moving ever faster to the final conclusion.
The narrator is excellent, perfectly matched to the tale being recounted by the damaged yet dedicated cop, Benny, in his ongoing search for justice. Ward Paxton's reading is steady and clear and he voices the other characters distinctly and in such a way as to further give life to already well drawn characters, real people with shifting attitudes, fears and allegiances.
I was very fortunate in being gifted a copy of River Street Blues by the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom. My thanks for this. It wasn't until i had finished the book that a brief note about the author, Ward Howard, revealed that this was his first novel. I was surprised given how well constructed and visual it had been. It is a story which will stay with me for a long time and is one which i recommend to anyone with an enjoyment of unusual detective noire.
I would recommend this audiobook,the narration matches the plot and the feelings of the characters.
It was a nice listening.
The tg line would be that of the book.
"This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review."
"History and mystery with noir feel"
A good blend of historical Richmond as a backdrop for a scarred former WWII marine turned detective. Intriguing plot and characters that are well narrated make for a good listen. I would let listen to more from the author. I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.
I just found out this was a debut novel for the author. What a pleasant surprise (much like this listen.)
I love the mystery. I loved the characters. I loved the setting and a I really loved the ending. (I could have done without all the references to "Negroes" though.)
If you like mysteries and film noir, you will love this novel noir. (Book noir? Noir book?)
River City Blues by Ward Hogarth was a good read. It's set in 1944 Richmond, Virginia. Things like scams and corruption run rampant. Detective Sergeant Bennie Sherwood returned from a tour with the marines and is now thrust into the crime in Richmond. This was a good debut novel by Ward Hogarth.
"Courageous Crime Fighter"
I very much enjoyed River City Blues. It's an interesting portrayal of the WWII era in Richmond, VA. Bennie Sherwood comes home after serving in the Marines and gets a detective job in the police department. Author Ward Howarth writes a gritty story about two investigations that are on a collision course. The dialogue was realistic and the developments in the cases come together for an exciting ending. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Ward Paxton whose style makes the moody and tough character's lives seem very real. The bad language in a few spots didn't bother me at all because it is so in keeping with the characters.
I love books about. this period of time. I hope Mr. Howarth writes a whole lot more along this time line.
"Dark, Gritty and Powerful !!"
This gripping thriller is full of mystery and suspense, plot twists and surprises. If you like espionage & Police Procedural, pulp thrillers, murder thrillers, men's or women's adventure, books & hard-boiled mystery thriller suspense & action, you will not be able to put this down & the end will have you begging for more.A fiction reader’s delight! River City Blue's has villains you will despise and heroes you’d love to meet. Add intrigue, and betrayal, and you’ll be captured by the Powerful and Realistic Narration by Ward Paxton, and long for Ward Howarth's next novel!
"A tale of Richmond's Underworld"
This was an excellent debut by Ward Howarth! I loved how he weaved Richmond's historic landmarks throughout this novel. Bennie is back from the war and trying to clean up the black market ring while wrestling with his inner demons. And he needs solve his father's murder. I was intrigued by this detective story full of underworld activity and police corruption that I couldn't stop listening! I hope this becomes a series. I would like to know what will happen next for Bennie. Or even what Bennie was like before and during the war. I thoroughly enjoyed this and hope the author has more in store!
"Richmond,Va. WWII. Prosperity,Vice & Action"
WWII American Crime Fighter
This book is impressive on many levels. Mystery. Action. A time machine into American life in prosperous Richmond, Virginia of late World War II. The graft, the hustle and bustle. Black market. And the characters, who seem real, ... affected by their experiences of the war. There seems to be extensive research, the effort seems to breathe reality from beginning to exciting finish. There are elements from Herman Wouk's works. Classics with fleshed out people, events...the same with River City Blues! In an early stage, and setting but that comes to mind. Much shorter work though lol. Not a bad thing! Sorry Herman!☺
I'm surprised at how good he is and my NOT running across him before now! Exceptional range of characters' voices for conversations. Very listenable for narrative, a great sense of drama, danger, stress, action...without over doing it.
I came away with a sense of being involved with the characters and setting of the book. Being well entertained.
I enjoy works of Historical fiction. The era portrayed - WWII taking place in America, in this case. Well developed with a plausible mystery as motivation for the actions.
This was an interesting work! Well researched and well written. This held my attention.
BE AWARE: BRIEF appearance of bad language. Infrequently, but the phrase "curse like a sailor" came to mind! For me, those issues didn't take away from the action of the story considering.
This review copy audiobook was provided by the author, narrator or publisher at no cost. Which I can only assume was voluntary on their part. I am happy to give my honest review of it. I think I'm suppose to mention how reviewing this was voluntary on my part too.
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