S.W. Lauden recently released Hang Time, the third and final book of his Greg Salem Mysteries published by Rare Bird Books. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be reviewing the entire series starting with the first installment.
If Greg Salem was rapper instead of a punk rocker/cop he might have written 99 Problems before Jay Z did. In Lauden’s Bad Citizen Corporation, Salem’s problems mount up page by page from the shooting an allegedly armed suspect, his brother’s death ruled a suicide (but it’s probably murder), one of his best friend’s gunned down while performing on stage, and another friend being forced to sell his bar. Salem is also a recovering addict and hated by his home town’s police. Conflict moves along plot, but all of this conflict is too much for any man to bear, even a fictional one.
Lauden’s tells an engaging story as Salem tries to figure out who killed his best friend and why. We follow Salem as he fights all of his demons while still trying to live what would be his normal life. Some scenes drag on for several pages too long and could have been cut down with a loss to story or plot, specifically I’m thinking of the funeral and reception afterwards as well as a lunch with his landlord. That said Lauden develops strong characters, even those on the periphery, whether they are his on-and-off-again girlfriend Quincy or members of a street gang that are always menacing him.
I wish Bad Citizen Corporation was a touch shorter, but that’s not too big of a complaint. I’ve read and enjoyed Lauden’s Tommy & Shayna series, Crosswise and Crossed Bones, so I’m quite sure Grizzly Season will be tighter and Salem’s problems might be down to a manageable baker’s dozen.