“Caina” by Joe Albanese

First a word about the title. I don’t know what it means, it appears nowhere in the book and thus it gives the reader or prospective buyer no clue as to what to expect. Readers of this genre aren’t expected to be familiar with Dante’s Inferno. At the risk of having someone come knocking on my door at night, I’d hazard a guess that you get more information from the name of the author. Sounds like an Italian-American lad with Family connections who knows whereof he writes.

Because this story is a wrong-side-of-the-big-city Crime Thriller, seen through the eyes of a part-time criminal, full-time loser and all-around nice guy with a messed up attitude. Trouble follows him like a dog after a meat wagon because he just keeps laying down that alluring scent.

But Lee the Loser has a twin brother named Grant (the winner, of course) and the two of them have had nothing to do with each other for twenty years. Until Lee finally gets deep enough in trouble to ask his brother for help and finds him dead. Which starts off an identity-switch situation comedy (except for all the bodies), as he tries to impersonate his successful brother in order to cash in on his success. Which leads to too much involvement in his brother’s life, which in turn leads to a good, complex plotline with plenty of twists that are a bit contrived but within reason. The main character is likeable with just enough self-deprecating humour for this genre.

My one complaint is a periodic lack of important details at key action points, leaving us unsure what, exactly, happened. I think perhaps this is done on purpose in an attempt to heighten tension. It doesn’t work, leaving us only confused.

I enjoyed the ending, with that final plot twist putting a different light on all sorts of things that happen in the story, changing the main character’s attitude and providing a good resolution at the same time.

Recommended for fans of gritty crime drama with no detectives.

(4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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