Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Publish)
Most investor pitch meetings don’t end in murder, but Marty and Bo haven’t had a lot of luck lately. They were just trying to keep their startup alive when Nico Scava offered to partner with them. He had money, connections in the art world, and a creative idea, but maybe they should have asked more questions. Now Nico’s dead, and they’re on the hook for whatever scheme he was running. The Russian mob is after them, and if they don’t find ten million dollars and a mysterious missing painting in the next week, they’ll be dead too. As the bodies pile up, Marty and Bo will have some tough choices to make about how far they’ll go to protect their families, their company, and themselves.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.25 out of 10
Plot/Idea: In this well-researched work, the author has tackled two areas of interest: the Russian mafia and art. The plot is packed with action from the first page. Balter has worked hard to keep the action sequences smooth and even, blending into the unfolding narrative rather than disrupting it. Ending with a precarious situation, the work makes it clear there is more to come.
Prose: A strong voice paired with authentic dialogue is the strength of this novel. Dialogue and expressed thoughts are witty and engaging, resulting in characters that feel real on the page. The banter between the two best friends is especially genuine.
Originality: The mafia is a familiar area of focus for mysteries and thrillers. The book's concentration on the art world provides an intriguing dimension, while the integration of these two arenas makes for a fresh work of fiction.
Character/Execution: Characters range from evil, and entitled, to cunning and witty. They remain consistent in their actions, while also believably evolving from start to finish.
Date Submitted: April 03, 2023
Balter introduces bumbling Oregonian business partners Marty Schott and Bo Bishop in this enjoyable debut caper and series launch. When the action kicks off, Marty, Bo, and their silent partner Nico are strapped to kitchen chairs in “a shabby little wood cabin about 20 miles west of Mt. Hood.” The group had intended to pitch a venture capitalist on their startup, Paladin; when they showed up to the meeting, however, they were kidnapped by a gun-toting trio and brought to the cabin. With Marty, Bo, and Nico restrained, a Russian man demands $10 million and a valuable painting, both of which, he says, the captives have stolen. Marty and Bo have no idea what he’s talking about, but after one of the thugs kills Nico, they manage to temporarily talk their way out of their fix. The Russian agrees to give Marty and Bo a few days to get the money and artwork back to him; if they don’t, they’re dead. From there, Balter’s heroes embark on a picaresque quest to find the painting and scrape together the money that grows funnier and more surprising every step of the way. Balter’s gift for pacing and dialogue make this a series to watch. (Self-published)