Mysterious Book Report The CorruptionsThe Corruptions by Vincent Zandri

Polis Books, $25.99, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-943818-37-2

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, 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 a 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 Candin Mounted Police, the U.S. Marshall Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Governor Leon Valente calls in Private Investigator Jack “Keeper” Marconi and hires him to find the escapes before anyone else does and 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 Swerengen 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, action and enthusiasm, leading to a thrilling, satisfying, unexpected conclusion you’ll never see coming. While it probably won’t be a hit with some law enforcers, it will be 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 yourself and see.


John Dwaine McKenna