Thursday, June 6, 2013

To Sleep Gently By Trent Zelazny

Reviewed by Anthony Servante

To purchase, click here

Book summary:
When career criminal Jack Dempster gets caught and put away for five years in prison, he finds time to seriously reconsider his chosen line of work. Before he can make any serious decision, some old acquaintances track him down with a proposal. They want him to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. With the help of an inside man, he's to lead a small group of professionals on a daring robbery of the El Dorado Hotel, one of the finest and most secure establishments in the Southwest.

Double-crosses, love triangles, and immersion in his own self-destructive past conspire to lead him to ruin. It's not easy to sleep when searching for normalcy in the heart of a brutal past. 

Trent Zelazny

Author biography:
Trent Zelazny is the Nightmare Award-winning author of To Sleep Gently. He is also an international playwright, as well as the editor of the anthologies Mirages: Tales From Authors of the Macabre, and Dames, Booze, Guns & Gumshoes. He was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has lived in California, Oregon, Arizona, and Florida. He currently resides back in Santa Fe. He is the son of the late science fiction author Roger Zelazny. He has a son named Corwin.

Sit back, turn to page one of To Sleep Gently, and watch the world around you turn to black and white. The Crime Noir has begun, and the modern master of the genre has taken you back to the olden days of the Noir novel, where big time robberies, bad guys in nice suits, femme fatales in sexy dress, and a hero torn between going straight, a law-abiding Joe, or hitting it big with One-More-Heist. Welcome to Trent’s world. Pour yourself a bourbon on ice, light up a Camel filterless cigarette, and pull up an ashtray.

Our hero is Jack Dempster, fresh out of prison after five years. Sounds like he spent more time in the library than in the yard brawls, so he has GED on his mind, get back to school, go Ossie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver all in one fell swoop. But his ex-prison mates have other ideas. There’s this hotel, see? Lots of cash. Ours for the taking. Now doesn’t that sound better than an education? Apparently it does as Jack takes the job.

Santa Fe Noir: Trentville

Trent brings the Noir form to the modern age in his beloved Santa Fe, New Mexico, casting shadows where writers such as David Goodis, Donald Westlake aka Richard Stark, and Lawrence Block, W.R. Burnett, Horace McCoy, Day Keene, and Cornell Woolrich have left their mark (sited from Trent's interview at: Roger Zelazny is to Science Fiction, Trent Zelazny is to Noir. Not only does he love the genre, he has re-invented it and made it his own. He’s gone way beyond classic Noir writers Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane and studied the work of the original Noir writers many of us fans have overlooked. He could teach a class in Noir if he chose to, and I'd be the first to sign up.

Trent's idol and muse: David Goodis

Note the Noir cover art.

And Trent’s studied his subjects well. He’s captured the look, the themes, and the characterizations common to early Noir and melds them with his own Noir novels. To Sleep Gently is his early attempt to recreate the tone and texture of the forties and fifties writings. He has since evolved his style in works such as “Shadowboxer, A Crack in Melancholy Time, Butterfly Potion, and his latest, Too Late to Call Texas. He is also the editor of the anthologies Mirages: Tales From Authors of the Macabre, and Dames, Booze, Guns & Gumshoes” (Amazon bio). [I am preparing a review on the latter as I write.]

To Sleep Gently has the feel of a classic 50s tale of darkness and desperation, with love that has to be earned with blood, sweat and bullets. A page turner worth the paper cuts.

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