Robert Fate,
Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption
(Capital Crime Press, 2008)

Raymond Chandler once offered a piece of advice to mystery-suspense writers: when things got slow: bring in a man with a gun. In this, the third novel in the Baby Shark series, Robert Fate takes Chandler's advice to the next level. Men -- and women -- with guns are everywhere.

The novel opens with a shootout in the back room of a bar; even before we know who the characters are, bullets are flying. When this one settles down, our protagonists are faced with another man who walks into the bar with a gun. After getting away from him, Baby Shark has to face down two killers on the road.

Let's say the book doesn't lack for action.

After the series of confrontations, we discover the reason behind them. Kristen Van Dijk, a.k.a. Baby Shark, and her partner Otis Millett are private detectives hired to bring home Savannah Smike, the not-too-bright, trouble-prone daughter of a major bootlegger. They, like Savannah Smikes, become pawns in a power struggle between two bootlegging operations. They spend most of the novel trying to avoid assassins as they figure out what's going on and, after Millett is wounded, Baby Shark has to find a way out of the middle by herself. Her efforts, of course, involve a bunch of gunplay.

Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption is a compelling action novel, a throwback to the pulp classics of the 1930s and '40s. Readers will enjoy it, although they'll be disturbed by a few of author Fate's choices. For example, although Van Dijk is presented as a competent, skilled warrior, she is often careless and overpowered by bad guys. She also carries a bunch of guns, which she sometimes loses. At times she's a relentless killer, but at others she becomes close to helpless and is lucky to escape with her life.

Those are small quibbles, though. Overall, Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption will bring readers of suspense fiction, especially if they are lovers of pulp novels, a lot of pleasure.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 November 2008

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