Each standalone book in this series will take you to a grave new world where those who’ve played fast with their lives or the law are on the run from karma. Breakneck thrills, hairpin turns and forces hellbent on collecting await. Only the noblest souls will survive.
Snakes in the Grass on a Train
In Nobility, one broken man battles a brutal gang of pickpockets on board the Amtrak Crescent train with some help from a girl who’s no angel–not yet. Hitchcock meets Tarantino in a tale of courage that fuses suspense, romance and retribution. The novel was inspired by an old James Coburn film called Harry In Your Pocket. And Reb’s meticulous research into the light-fingered art will leave readers wondering what’s still in their wallets and where their wallets are. Before long, they’ll wonder too who gets off the train alive.
Like the other series entries, Nobility weighs in at 35,000 words–a bit shorter in length than readers may expect. But the books are in fact novels, not long short stories or novellas, just as the following titles are all sold as novels though under 50,000 words: The Old Man and the Sea, The Pearl, Of Mice and Men,The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…
–Most of the reviewers singled out the chapter called Palindrome Fever, wherein the train goes crazy with palindromes appearing every which-way. But the structure of the book is another palindrome, with four sections–A, B, B, A: the two A’s are of equal length, as are the two B’s. And, if you like this sort of thing: the first and last words of each part are colors. We begin with black, progressing to the rainbow of colors that closes the book.
–The pickpockets use the names of Roman gods in this story. Thieves have already used colors twice: in The taking of Pelham 123 and Reservoir Dogs. Days of the week or numbers would be too tough for readers to keep straight. Plus, this gang is arrogant–and tonight they feel like gods.
–Nobility exemplifies Reb’s Big Five narrative goals: to thrill, delight, astonish, move and inspire.
This excellent tale incorporates the miracle of “A Wonderful Life,” the clever thievery of “The Sting” and the romance of “Water For Elephants.” The author expertly weaves a complicated story line, spiced with outlandish characters, into a fast-pace plot. The characters become sympathetic or despicable as the reader learns their histories. We yearn for success or failure, befitting the nature of the persona, as danger looms.
It’s a bitter-sweet Christmas tale worthy of O’Henry but the events might have transpired on any festive weekend. Don’t sell this book short because it’s a novella. The story is jam packed with action, pathos, and intrigue–enough to keep the reader on edge until the very end.
if i could say anything to someone looking at this book i would say ignore whatever genre it happens to be in when you look at the categories. It is, as i said, edgy but it entwines a flavour of mythology with suspense, possibly even a bit of a romantic twist with that kind of old time heroism. it begins with the train full of characters operating as pick pockets and the whole atmosphere comes across as so dark yet bleak, as does the tale of the hero.
if i could sum the writing up in a word it would be ‘intelligent.’ And i will leave it at that
At other times the author matter-of-factly describes the jargon of the pickpockets: Poke, Mark, Dip, Lambs, et al. “..light-fingered and wing-footed (a nod to Homer) enough to split with the wallets or pokes, the thieves bagged before the marks knew they were missing.” Another character is known by his epithet: silver beard.
As another reviewer has noted, the Palindrome Fever chapter is quite clever and there is a great deal of skillful word play throughout the work. There is also the crackle of the supernatural in this book – the otherwise unexplained bolts of electricity sent from above.
Roman gods arose from a strange confluence of cultures and superstitions around the Latium area, later known as Rome. Here we have a strange convergence of ne’er-do-wells who are willing to kill and maim to sate their newest appetite: Jove(a/k/a Jupiter, powerful, cruel and vain), Janus, Mercury, Mars, Cupid, Venus, Vulcan(god of fire), each with a role. You’ll have to read the book to enjoy each one and his/her role.
MacRath creates a banquet of the gods in the bar car:” Now the crowd in the bar car began to go wild, believing the roll held their losses. And Janus completed the picture…
I have two complaints, and one relates to the above paragraph. Yes, the pacing was fast and the short sections improved that pacing, but it didn’t fit in my opinion.
Let me explain. The depth in MacRath’s writing is impressive. The myriad of ideas and thoughts running through his character’s heads is realistic and he does well putting this on paper. My issue is many of these thoughts seem out of place in the midst of the quick pacing. As if we go from a lyrical masterpiece to an action sequence and back, with little transition.
How could this have been done different? I’m not sure, but this brings me to the other complaint. This book felt like two stories wrapped into one. We have the pickpockets, and we have Ray, another main character. While both were needed with this plot, either of those ideas on its own could have made up its own story, especially with the depth in MacRath’s writing.
My thoughts on the two complaints.
MacRath could have used his depth of thought to create two completely separate novellas, or novels. One with the gang of pickpockets, fast pace, their ups and downs, their big takes, etc.