Merrimon Book Reviews

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From Merrimon Book Reviews
Fake I.D.
Fake I.D. By Jason Starr
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 does.  

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 mistrust.

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.  Brilliant!

Publisher:  Hard Case Crime (May 2009)
Cover Art: Gregg Kreutz

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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