Stage Business, by Gerry Fostaty

Three stars (of five)

Fostaty reached out and asked that I read through his recent publication, offering an honest review, which is how STAGE BUSINESS found its way into my possession. Michael Dion is not a detective, nor does he play one on television (or on stage, for that matter). In trying to curry favour with a fellow actress during a rehearsal, Michael volunteers to help Amanda locate a friend’s son. Seventeen year-old Kyle stormed off after an argument with his mom and failed to return the next morning. Amanda and Michael agree to do all they can to locate him and bring him back home, though neither has much experience in the sleuthing department. Michael pokes around some leads and discovers that Kyle may have been involved in Toronto’s rave scene, peddling drugs to attendees. Kyle gets caught up in a power struggle and is taken captive by a number of unsavoury characters, whose identities come to light only after Michael crossing their paths at a rave. Michael and Amanda work with a closely-knit group to stage a transfer in order to return Kyle to his family. What begins as a covert operation soon spills over into the public sphere, leaving Michael holding the bag and the authorities poking around. Fostaty offers up some interesting social commentary about the world of acting and life in Canada’s largest city. An interesting first novel, leaving much room for growth.

When first asked to read this novel, I was unsure what to expect. I promised to give it a try and see what I thought, as I have with a number of previous author-led queries. While the story has a solid foundation and premise, I found it a little wordy and somewhat tangential at times. Perhaps I am too inundated by popular fiction or NYT bestselling authors, but I found myself giving the proverbial hand-roll on occasion and skimming paragraphs to get to the heart of the story. While set in Toronto, the story does not utilise its locale to the full extent possible. I will not refer to other well-grounded Canadian authors who have mastered Toronto or other places to their advantage, but I would have liked a little more focus on the city, rather than dropping street names. The characters had some development, but, again, I found myself flitting between interest in them and wanting to see how they fit into the larger story. A decent first attempt in the publication world and I could see myself trying another novel, if only to determine how he’s grown.

Decent work, Mr. Fostaty. Thanks for reaching out and I hope to see you develop your craft in the coming years.