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Bad Citizen Corporation by S.W. Lauden

bad-citizen-corporation-by-sw-lauden.jpgS.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.

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Crossed Bones by S.W. Lauden

Before we get into the review as such of S.W. Lauden’s Crossed Bones (Down & Out Books), we need to discuss the proper reading environment for it. Since Crossed Bones is a summer book, it has certain demands. It needs to be read while sitting poolside or on a beach. If neither are available, a porch, deck or backyard will suffice. It also needs the weather to be hot and sunny with a temperature over 80ºF. Most importantly, by your side needs to be a cooler filled with a six pack of cold Busch beer cans. You can improvise here, but no fancy, hoppy beers will be permitted. Drink your first cheap beer quickly and then begin to read.

Lauden’s Crossed Bones takes place immediately after Crosswise, the first in the Tommy and Shayna Crime Caper books. After things had gone to shit in Seatown, Florida, Shayna makes her way to New Orleans while Tommy doesn’t leave. He licks his wounds as a bouncer at a local dive bar. The action of Crossed Bones is at a blistering pace and while Tommy drinks himself sorry, Shayna’s motivation for money is only matched by her guile and an unstoppable determination to get what she wants.

All of the plotting and scheming, the complicated lies and manipulations, had given her a sense of purpose that felt like a missing limb these days. She hadn’t just gotten revenge on that abusive, pill-popping son-of-a-bitch; she’d fooled everybody in Seatown, Florida—my hometown—including the police. And now all of that hard work was reduced to a check she was waiting to get in the mail.

The whole thing had been about the cash, but now it didn’t seem like it was enough. She craved a new adventure, something to lose herself in completely. Unfortunately, the person she most wanted to share it with was back in Seatown. And he probably hated her for everything she’d put him through.

I’ve already ruined Tommy Ruzzo’s life twice before, she thought. A third time might finally kill him.

Like all good crime fiction set in a seaside resort, Lauden’s Crossed Bones is filled with cocaine, rum, and sex. Crossed Bones is the adult version of a carnival ride and Lauden’s writing keeps us grounded even as we plunge into the absurdity of costumed pirates battling a motorcycle gang for a lost treasure. A fun summer read, Crossed Bones should not take longer to read than drinking an ice-cold six-pack of beer.

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