by Jason Starr
Haunting and Brilliant!
New York bar bouncer Tommy Russo
dreams of making it big but his acting career is going nowhere.
When a man approaches him with a plan to turn him from losing gambler
to race horse owner, Tommy brushes him off at first. But he just
can't resist and soon begs for more details. All he needs is
$10,000 to buy into a syndicate and turn his life around. The one
little kink in the plan is his lack of money. If he can find the
money, he will finally be a winner and achieve the envied looks of
others. No longer will he be the loser at the tracks.
Despite some of the troubling details which might trigger second
thoughts, Tommy sets about making his dream come true. As Tommy
follows his determined one-track plan, other areas of his life take a
turn for the better...but can Tommy see the opportunities before him?
Jason Starr's FAKE I.D.
easily takes the reader into Tommy's thoughts, aligning the reader with
first person narrator, almost against one's natural inclination, hoping
against all hope that Tommy will awaken to the events around him.
Unlikable Tommy is a likable guy in spite of himself and all his less
than savory characteristics. One can't help but root for him and
yet his thoughts provide a chilling look into distorted thinking.
Jason Starr creates a riveting setting for his character, giving this
crime story a depth and vision beyond just the story of the downfall of
one small time gambler. As Tommy heads down his narrow path with
blinders on his eyes, circumstances and characters around him create a
direction counter to his actions, magnifying the sense of his
downfall. Hope and opportunity seem just around the corner but
Tommy's obsession prevents him stepping outside his own mindset to see
the goodness around him. FAKE I.D.
is a thrilling spiral into the darker side of life, of ambition
turned sinister and oblivious to all but a chance on the easy
win. Just when one thinks things can't possibly get worse, they
do. Just when it seems Tommy can't plunge any further down, he
Jason Starr does an excellent job in the creation of his characters,
not only the main character of Tommy but also in every minute detail of
the secondary characters from the men in the syndicate to those in the
bar, from clothing to the mindset and motivations of his
characters. Every detail of characterization adds drama and a
richness to this crime tale. The relationship between Tommy and
Frank, the bar owner, gives a stunning dimension to Jason Starr's
characterization and the story's world-building. Their encounters
evoke emotion, suspense and a tension-filled dynamic of trust and
From the very beginning, FAKE I.D. grabs
ahold of a reader's imagination and doesn't let go until the last
closing dramatic dark, twisted moments. What a magnificent
ending! Jason Starr packs so much into this crime story that
Tommy's story will haunt a reader long after the first page.
Hard Case Crime (May 2009)
Cover Art: Gregg Kreutz
Reviewed by Merrimon,
Merrimon Book Reviews