In his line of work sometimes people had to die.
The Last Straw by Ed Duncan is the second book in his Pigeon-Blood Red series and follows multiple characters’ throughout but centres on Rico and his history/present with Paul.
I must admit that I didn’t actually know that this novel was actually the second in the series, and now it definitely makes sense as I had trouble in the beginning understanding the context surrounding the narrative itself, but also the characters and their history with each other, especially Rico and Paul. So in that regard I was slightly confused. So I think if I had read the first book before I read this one, it would have made the beginning journey of this novel so much more easier!
Essentially, The Last Straw depicts just that. The culmination of a long-standing feud between Rico and Paul and the causalities which their war ensues. Before I delve further into this review, here is the synopsis that can also be found on Goodreads:
When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own.
After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.
As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled
Thoughts on the Narrative…
I won’t spoil the book because it honestly had me incredibly engaged throughout, so I’ll just consider it more generally. Let’s talk about the writing.
I’m so mad at myself for taking so long to read this book, if that makes sense, Ed Duncan has an uncanny ability to hit you where it hurts. By this I mean that his writing is without artifice but it is not simple. Oh no. This is quality writing with intriguing characters and an engaging plot line. The story itself is fast-paced, so the reader isn’t really given time to lose interest.
But what I really enjoyed was the mafia aspect of the storyline. It’s been too long since I read a novel in a mafia-esque setting, so reading The Last Straw tickled my pickle. The storyline itself is centred (and I will speak briefly upon this) on Rico, a complex man with a heart as big as Texas, is tasked with the murder of a teenage girl, Sandra. Rico has boundaries that he will not cross, and refuses to be the trigger for the girl’s death. When another man attempts the execution himself but misses, the plot begins to really start moving and is so unpredictable that ensures the reader will be engaged to the very end.
I should point out though, that although nothing is too graphic, there are depictions of murder, rape and violence. So, if this does trigger you, maybe steer clear from this book.
Thoughts on the Characters…
I’ve already pointed out that I enjoyed reading Rico’s character, but the interactions between characters, especially those between Rico and Paul for instance, I would have enjoyed so much more if I read the first book. I would have fully understood the significance of their interactions with each other.
The various cast of characters within this novel are all very well developed and all have some part in moving the story forward. Duncan ensures that we, as the reader, are given context to each character so that we are able to more fully immerse ourselves within the story and connect with the characters. I do have to say though, that I didn’t really enjoy reading Evelyn’s character, I wanted to like her, but I just found her extremely angst-y and frustrating, at times.
In saying that though, the multiple perspectives did become a bit too much at one point. I found that it created a sort-of disjointedness with the overall flow of reading the novel. There are also some sudden scene changes that also weirdly placed and again, disrupts the overall flow of the story. I do have to admit that the writing style is one that I don’t usually gravitate towards, but Duncan certainly does know how to weave an engaging narrative.
Overall, I did enjoy reading The Last Straw by Ed Duncan and I would rate it a 3.5 stars out of 5. If you enjoy thriller/crime fiction, with complex and morally ambiguous characters, then I definitely recommend you to try this series.
I hope you enjoyed this review! That’s it for today, friends! Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,
NOTE: I would love to extend my gratitude to Kelsey at The Book Publicity Services and the author for giving me a free copy of The Last Straw in exchange for an honest review.