Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Veins, by Lawrence C. Connolly

There is no such thing as the perfect crime.

This is one of the lessons hard-learned when a group of small-time crooks get into big-time trouble in Lawrence C. Connolly’s Veins.

Reddy, Tejay and Spinelli have set their sites on a briefcase full of cash, the property of Bird, a young man obsessed with his heritage and a mean streak as long as a backwoods dirt road.

With Tejay providing all the inside information on Bird’s “gambling” habits, Spinelli providing the brains and Reddy on-hand as extra muscle, the only thing this gang of wannabe criminals needs is a wheelman to help make the getaway.

Enter Axle, a young Native American with a floundering business and a cherry Ford Mustang, as well as the knowhow to guide the mechanical beast through the twists and turns of a small Pennsylvania town at breakneck speeds.

What begins as a simple stop-and-grab affair quickly devolves into a high-speed, bullet-riddled chase leading into the heart of an old coal mine where past will meet present and beings of legend will have a hand in the fate of everyone involved.

Best known for his short story work, Connolly weaves an intriguing tale that moves as fast as the car at the heart of his story. Each of his characters, including the Russian club owner, Vorarov, and the assassin for hire, Sam, are well realized and driven by unique motivations.

What brought each of these seven people together is explored through flashback chapters, but even their seemingly unconnected histories appear to have been preordained long ago.

Connolly has a knack for the eerie and injects several scenes of disquiet into his otherwise straightforward crime thriller. While Veins doesn’t fit into the horror genre the author is known for, there are still a handful of moments geared at making the reader’s skin crawl.

What I appreciate most from Connolly’s writing is his ability to effortlessly paint a scene, highlighting all the nuances in beautiful detail, often bordering on poetic prose.

Along with a compelling crime drama, Veins braids in a healthy dose of Native American lore, bridging both the physical world and that of the spirits, bending time and space so that earlier events may be impacted and further explained by those that come further into the story.

Connolly keeps the narrative maze quite manageable, with my only complaint being that he holds the reader’s hand a bit too firmly at times, blatantly stating what has already been well established with subtle hints and creative storytelling.

In the end, the reader is left with a multi-layered tale that blends uncommon themes in a way that’s easy to get behind. The story speeds along at a quick clip before slamming on the breaks and giving the reader a brief glimpse of the road ahead, one that will be explored in the second part of the series, Connelly’s recently released Vipers.

Veins is fast, haunting and engaging throughout. For fans of heist thrillers and a taste for the supernatural, it's an easy recommend. Strap yourself in, hit the gas and enjoy the ride.

1 comment:

Lawrence C. Connolly said...

Delighted to see VEINS reviewed here.

I also enjoyed your other reviews, particularly the one for THE DRAGON FACTORY. I'll be doing a signing with Jonathan Maberry later this month at the Wilkes-Barre Barnes & Nobel. Here's a link:

If your readers enjoy VEINS, they might also get a kick out of the second book in the series, VIPERS, which is out now.

More info available at: