Sunday, June 19, 2016

Relative Karma 
by Martin Reaves

Reviewed by Anthony Servante


An intoxicating first-person treatise on the devastation of infidelity. A chilling and often heart-wrenching read. A year after abandoning his wife of fourteen years, Jeff Vincent’s pseudo-existence is a soul-numbing blend of alcohol and meaningless searches for other people’s trivia. Until the Saturday morning Jan Fraden mistakes his search-service ad for that of a private detective. Before the weekend is through, people are disappearing, dying, then reappearing. And it all seems connected to Jeff Vincent and his betrayal. Could his sin—a simple act of infidelity—turn the world so completely inside out? And if there was redemption, did he deserve it?


Martin, a native of Los Angeles County, moved to Northern CA in 1993. Over the past thirty-five years he has written scores of short stories, plays, and dramatic sketches. And four novels: Relative Karma, Relative Sanity, the award-winning A Fractured Conjuring, and Rosebud Hill, Volume 1. Also available is the highly praised Dark Thoughts, a collection of short fiction. Many projects are on the horizon, including a sequel to A Fractured Conjuring, and a holiday entry in the Relative series entitled Relative Yuletide. Martin dearly loves to hear from his readers.

The Review:

Trent Zelazny gave me this book called "Relative Karma" by Martin Reaves. He told me to just read it. It's not for review. So I tossed it into the "to be read" pile, next to the "for review " pile. That was about half a year ago. I finally got around to the book. It was fucking amazing, a blend of Noir and Ultra Realism, also commonly known as Magic Realism in Chicano writing. Then I decided to review it. I liked it that much. 

But I thought I'd better read the Amazon reviews first, especially Trent's. It was all there: the raves, the praise, the honors. There was nothing new that I could add short of laying out a critic's welcome mat to the talented writer who's seemed to be overlooked by the Noir nation of fans and readers. 

That's when I understood Trent's words: Just read it. Add one more reader to the growing number of Martin Reaves fans. The great reviews have already been written: It is the purest form of Noir. It is a perfect narrative. It is raw emotion impeccably plotted. It is a surreal journey into the mind of an unforgiven sinner. It is a carousel of suspects and caricatures of faces and archetypes we've seen hundreds of times in the finest pulp stories. It is new and original literature worthy of academic inclusion. It is Noir that should sit on the shelves next to Raymond Chandler, Andrew Vachss, and yes, Trent Zelazny. What more could I add? 

All I really needed to do was follow Trent's advice from the beginning. All I need to do now is read the rest of Reaves' oeuvre. 

And all you need to do now is, just read it. Then you'll understand why Martin Reaves is a genius at weaving spiderwebs of emotion across the walls of your mind. Get caught up. Just read him.

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