Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE POOR BOY’S GAME by Dennis Tafoya

Dennis Tafoya The Poor Boy

The cover on The Poor Boy’s Game sold me on the book. I love that sepia tone and the aggressive stance of the woman holding the pistol in the reader’s face, and the title caught my attention too. I’ve never heard of anything called the poor boy’s game.

When I started reading the first few pages, I immediately got caught up in the story, so I figured the book would fulfill the promise made by the cover. There was a lot of tension, then action, then shooting.

After that, though, the plot veers off in several directions, and the building tension actually gets scuttled.

US Marshal Frannie Mullen is someone I’d like to see again. She has range and depth, and more than a few scars I’d like to watch her work through. Her father is one of the worst criminals you can imagine, her sister is a basket case, and she’d just walked away from a job I thought she loved.

I have to admit that I had problems with Frannie’s reasons for leaving the Marshals service. Maybe someone who didn’t have her rough upbringing would crumple under such a bad thing happening, but her cashing in her chips and bowing out of the Marshals just didn’t work for me. From everything in her background, Frannie is the type who would try to work through the rough spots. Not give in to them.

Patrick Mullen, her father, is an interesting guy. Sure, he’s a villain through and through, but I would like to see him in action, actually. He has his own journey in the novel as well, but I had trouble buying the twist that takes place toward the end. There was no real foreshadowing of the twist, or of Patrick Mullen’s actions.

The second half of the book shakes out other storylines as well, picking up the viewpoints of other bad guys coming after Frannie and Patrick, as well as the bosses who want Patrick and Frannie dead. I didn’t see that they added anything to the plot and I would have been happier to see Frannie striking back earlier.

The writing is pretty good. The character sketches are deep and intense, but I didn’t feel like I needed to know as much about the bad guys as I ended up getting to know.

I’m planning on going back for Tafoya’s earlier two books and checking them out to see what he’s doing, and I’ll pick up his next book as well. The author is going to grow as a storyteller, and he definitely knows the city he writes about.


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