Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review: Deadly Dreams By Victor Banis

Reviewed by Alan Chin

Victor Banis delivers this third novel of the crime/thriller/mystery series featuring San Francisco detectives Stanley Korski and Tom Danzel. This time, Stanley and Tom are lovers, who not only live together, but are partners in a private detective agency. As the two are settling into living together, a death in Stanley’s family uncovers the fact that Stanley has an older brother, Andrew, that he never knew about. As the story progresses, puzzle pieces about Andrew fall into place and the death of an art dealer last seen with Tom make it clear that, although Stanley never knew about Andrew, Andrew certainly knows a thing or two about Stanley. Stanley and Tom soon discover that officers from Homeland Security have targeted Andrew as a terrorist, and are desperate to track him down. The lovers join the search, unaware that Andrew’s primary goal is to kill Tom.

I’m now sorry that I didn’t read the first two novels in this series before tackling Deadly Dreams. Not that the first two are needed to understand the dynamics of the relationship between the lovers, indeed Banis give sufficient background so that the story stands on it’s own beautifully, but I enjoyed the characters so much I would have preferred to have started at the beginning of the series.

As with all of Victor Banis’s novels, it is a character driven story more so than plot driven. Victor is a master at creating complex and original characters that the reader has no choice but to pull for. As superb as the characters are, it was Victor’s consummate skill at crafting prose and his rich details that kept me fully engaged until the last page.

Of course no novel is perfect and this one is no exception. I occasionally felt that several plot points were a bit contrived in order to advance the story. That, however, didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Also, there were more spelling and formatting problems than I’ve seen in Victor Banis’s previous works. That, sad to say, is becoming more common in publishing today.

Those minor issues aside, I would recommend this read to anyone who enjoys multifaceted characters, humor, suspense, and a compelling storyline.

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