The Corruptions

The Corruptions

Mysterious Book Report No. 282

by John Dwaine McKenna

Ever notice how things seem to go in repeating cycles?  Either there’s always . . . or never . . . a parking spot when you’re running late for an appointment, for example.  You either breeze right in whistling a happy tune, or show up twenty minutes late, all sweaty, red-faced and cursing under your breath at the vagaries of the universe and the inconsiderate hog who took up two spaces.

Sometimes, writing the MBR is like that; it either comes easily, or it’s as tough as no-Novocain dentistry.  This week’s report is such a one. Ouch!!

The Corruptions, (Polis Books, $25.99, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-943818-37-2) by Vincent Zandri, starts with a plot that’s ripped right out of last year’s headline news.  Remember when the two cons broke out of one of the New York State’s most maximum security penitentiaries with the help of a love struck lady Corrections Officer? So begins Mr. Zandri’s novel, as cellmates Reginald Moss and Derrick Sweet saw their way out of Little Siberia, otherwise known as The Clinton Correctional Facility, in Dannemora, New York—just twenty miles south of the Canadian border—with the help of a female CO named Joyce Matthews.  As a massive manhunt involving the NY State troopers, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, the Canadian Mounted Police, the U.S. Marshall Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation gets underway, Governor Leon Valente calls in Private Investigator Jack “Keeper” Marconi.  The Governor swears Jack to secrecy, and hires him to find the escapees before anyone else, then bring them straight to his office.

What follows is a pastiche of borrowings from other writers such as Robert B. Parker, Stephen King, Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler . . . as well as the lifting of one of the most memorable scenes from the HBO Series Deadwood, in which Ian McShane as Swearengen and Keone Young as Mr. Wu are having a discussion in which Swearengen uses a crude epithet describing what some folks consider a deviant act of sexual congress, and Mr. Wu, because of his limited English language, begins using the same vulgarity to describe everyone at which point Swearengen begins encouraging Mr. Wu, because he finds it amusing.  Anyone who’s seen the series will remember the scene.  Personally, I hated seeing it recycled without credit like that, and under normal circumstances would have quit the book then and there.  But, something kept me at it, and I’m glad I did, because thereafter, the plot bloomed as it expanded with renewed energy and originality, as well as greater action and enthusiasm, which lead to a thrilling, satisfying, unexpected conclusion you’ll never see coming.  While it probably won’t be a hit with some law enforcers, it is an exciting, entertaining and enthralling piece of crime fiction for all the rest of us.  With more than twenty-five novels to his name, Mr. Zandri knows how to spin a yarn!  Read it for yourself and see.

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