High concept noir. Fast. Very fast. Exciting, detailed, evocative storytelling. A world worth exploring that will leave you wanting to go back for more.
This is book 2 in the series, reviewed from a proof copy. The release will be later this spring, in the meantime the first book, The Desire Card, is available here:
Prey No More is the second story by Lee Matthew Goldberg set around a shady organization known as The Desire Card. The Card, as they are often referred to in the book, can grant any wish you desire, for the right fee of course. Working in the very upper echelons of power and the super-rich, The Card operate outside of any legal or ethical framework. Our story follows JD Noble, recruited following a stint in Iraq to be a hitman for The Card. As the story opens JD is starting to struggle with his conscience after years working for The Cards’ charismatic and anonymous leader Clark Gable, named for the mask he wears to disguise his true identity. Unfortunately, JD doesn’t have the option of handing in his resignation and working four weeks’ notice. To leave is to die. But leave is precisely what he does. What follows is a breathless race for survival as JD attempts to evade The Cards assassins that have been sent to kill him and decide how he might be able to escape once and for all to build a life that resembles normal.
Written in a classic and clear three act structure, the story really does read like a film. Lee’s use of evocative descriptive language paints a picture in your mind’s eye which further enhances this feeling. Especially impressive as locations go from Marrakesh to Macau via small town America, all brought to vivid life in the prose.
As an organization, The Card is as intriguing to me as a reader as The Continental is to me as a viewer in the John Wick films. Building a world and the people that populate it, Lee has developed a fascinating space in which he can place an ever changing cast of characters. As the books in this series revolve around the organization rather than necessarily the specific characters, Lee has built a world which will give him the space as an author to really explore the dark side of the human psyche, just how dark can a wish get, how far are the rich and powerful willing to go to get what they want or satiate their desires? Only time will tell.
Although Lee has very much built a world in which to play, rather than a recurring lead character to explore, for his series, don’t let that leave you thinking that character has taken a back seat. It has not. Even characters that appear for a short time, a truck driver, a local small time crook, a drug kingpin, are fully realized and in one case really quite scary. Our leads JD and Annie have an intriguing relationship, the true nature of which it is left to you, the reader, to decide upon. Always an entertaining way for a character to build in noir, where you are never entirely sure that what you are seeing is the whole picture. Lee has this trope mastered.
With Prey No More being the second book in the series, there is an obvious question that we haven’t yet addressed, how do they play out of sequence? The series is linked rather than chronological, so you can read these books out of order or independently without any issue. I have yet to read book one, The Desire Card, but I certainly didn’t feel like I had missed anything essential to my understanding and enjoyment of this tale by reading them out of order.
Starting at a fast pace, and only escalating from there, Prey No More is the very definition of exciting, cinematic story telling. The pace is frenetic throughout, keeping you turning page after page. Prey No More reads like an action film on the page, hence my comparison with John Wick. Hugely entertaining and gripping, high concept noir, I hope this marks the start of an extensive series.