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The Price by Joseph Garraty

November 23, 2011

The Price by Joseph Garraty

For Jimmy Pecatti, joining the mob doesn’t seem so bad. The street tax on his old man’s business drops to zero, he pulls down more cash in a week than he used to see in half a year–and, if he’s gonna learn to channel his innate talent for magic, the underworld is the only place to do it. It seems like everything he could ask for.

Trouble is, Jimmy doesn’t know what he’s getting into. The Mafia isn’t such a big deal in Boston these days, and the Russian mob is gearing up to exterminate them. Worse, the Russians have hired a notoriously out-of-control wizard named Kelsen who is conjuring up unkillable demons and leaving wiseguys in pieces all over town. As the Mafia’s hot new talent and the only one with enough mojo to stop Kelsen, Jimmy might as well be wearing crosshairs.

When the violence escalates into all-out war, Jimmy pulls every trick he can think of to stay alive, protect his family, and keep ahead of the Russian gangsters. Luck and smarts won’t get Jimmy through this–it’s going to take magic. But magic is a dirty back room deal with the universe, and demons mediate the deals, sinking their hooks into Jimmy’s soul a little more with every spell he works.

Jimmy just might be able to protect his folks, take Kelsen out, and bring the war to an end–but he’ll have to take a flamethrower to his own soul to do it.

Joseph Garraty is slowly becoming my favorite male author. He writes the dark, gritty, twisty plots I’m naturally drawn to and he writes them so well that I’m always sad to reach the end. His writing style, while straight-forward, is so packed with a biting sardonic sense of humor that keeps me smirking even when the characters have found themselves up the creek without a paddle.

Sometimes, they even deserve to be there.

That’s a huge draw for me. Characters that aren’t perfect, not even particularly heroic. Instead their so tragically human that it’s their own decisions that end up getting them in trouble in the first place. Because no matter what anyone tells you, you always have a choice. But that doesn’t mean there’s always a “good” choice…

When Jimmy comes home to find his father being bludgeoned to death by Russian Mobsters, he finds himself without any good choices. Fortunately (or not), he’s “rescued” by two wiseguys Benedict and Lazzaro, current members of the Boston Mafia.  Benedict offers Jimmy a chance to take his life into his own hands by joining the Mafia. And considering the alternatives, Jimmy figures it could be a hell of a lot worse. What Jimmy doesn’t realize is that this one action sets him on the path to making all-too-literal deals with demons. Who have their own plans for his life.

I liked Garraty’s portrayal of the crime syndicate. I liked it even more that he blended an incredibly dark magic system into the mix. The title of the novel alone is enough to tell you that this isn’t to be taken lightly. Jimmy’s magic has huge consequences to both himself and the people around him.

Speaking of the people around him, the supporting cast is brimming with rich interesting characters. I loved Benedict, Tink and Kit. I already mentioned Benedict earlier. He plays magical Yoda to Jimmy’s wizard Luke. Tink is a character that comes up near the middle range of the book, and damned if I didn’t like him from the start. Just don’t ask how he got his name, ok? Kit isn’t mentioned in the blurb but she’s an important side character. I’ve already mentioned in my review of Voice how much I appreciate Garraty’s portrayal of women and Kit’s no exception.

But be warned, liking Garraty’s characters can also come with a price. There aren’t always happy endings. But satisfying ones? Oh hell yeah.

The Price is a fantastic read but not for the faint of heart. It can be purchased at Amazon and Smashwords.

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