Babytrick (Detroit Im Dyin’ Trilogy #3), by T. V. LoCicero

Eight stars

First and foremost, thank you to T. V. LoCicero for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two novels in the trilogy, it was a no-brainer to read the final instalment, full of some of the darkest writing that LoCicero has offered to date. Camie may only be fourteen, but she has lived the hard life. After being abused by her step-father, she fled to the rough streets of Detroit and was eventually sent to work in a vice den. A babytrick, the name given to underage prostitutes, Camie has come to learn that she wants out from under the thumb of a greedy set of thugs, free to earn money the only way she knows how. That being said, once they have you, those who control the sleazy underbelly of the city rarely want to let you go. Meanwhile, Gabriella ‘Ella’ Peek has made quite the name for herself. Rising through the ranks of the Detroit Police Department, Peek left after her list of enemies on the force exceeded those on the street. She earned a law degree and has returned to work for the city on a lucrative project to rejuvenate the City Airport. However, with an ailing father in the hospital, Peek takes some time to visit an old boyfriend, whom she finds dead in his pool. When the police arrive, she is the number one suspect, with ample motive to have killed Bruce Miller. What ties these two women together, Ella and Camie? One Mark Cremini, journalist for Rolling Stone, who has travelled from LA to discover the pulse of Detroit. He wants to write all about Peek and her amazing life story, as well as develop a piece on the youth working the inner city streets. Cremini is able to forge a strong relationship with both Peek and Camie, bringing them together as they are hunted by a corrupt gang of cops and thugs. The more Cremini learns, the deeper he finds himself in both their plights. With a murder charge looming for Peek and Camie’s life on the line as she hides, all three must work together to develop a team mentality before it’s too late. Surely the darkest and most impactful of the three novels, LoCicero entertains and educates the reader in equal measure. Perfect for those who are looking for a different type of crime novel that pushes all the grit to the surface.

All three of these novels have been a stunning look into early 1990s Detroit, presenting some of the struggles that seem to have pervaded the inner-city. LoCicero tackles prostitution, particularly underage girls, presenting some loose theories about how some girls might flock to the profession. With each novel, the central characters change, but the quality of their development remains at the highest caliber. LoCicero presents Camie Walsh as a precocious girl who is living the life she has apparently been dealt to her, but is also well-grounded in the life that she dream of living. Ella Peek has seen much in her life and has struggled in a city where race remains a ceiling when it comes to advancement. Mark Cremini is the new guy in town, somewhat wet behind the ears to Detroit living, but also coming with the preconceived notions of what awaits him. Peppering a wonderful cast and a minor role for Channel 5 news anchor Frank DeFauw, LoCicero locks down a cast of characters who will dazzle the narrative in their own ways. The story is, as mentioned before, the darkest of all three and also the most dense. It could be the subject matter, but there is also a sense that the reader really must become invested to take a significant amount away. This is not a bad thing in the least. The chapters are still short and to the point, allowing the reader to speed through the novel while still picking up much of interest. Using fairly ‘raw’ language and idioms, LoCicero gets his point across that these streets are not Candyland or some dreamy suburb community. While some may bemoan the cursing, I would point to the realism factor on offer by doing this, which LoCicero has surely done for a reason. The story comes to life with these amazing gems and the entire series comes highly recommended, for what it’s worth!

Kudos, Mr. LoCicero for a fabulous novel and stellar series. I appreciate having these novels come onto my radar at such a poignant time and I was pleased to devour and review them, in hopes that others will discover their quality.

Admission of Guilt (Detroit Im Dyin’ Trilogy #2), by T. V. LoCicero

Eight stars

First and foremost, thank you to T. V. LoCicero for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After thoroughly enjoying the first novel in the series, I decided to return to LoCicero’s Detroit for another gritty story. Set in 1993, the story opens with the shooting of a young girl who was delivering the daily newspaper. Plagued by the news, John Giordano begins to see just how bad things have become, particularly for his eighth-grade students. Children dying, his own students working the corner selling crack and heroin, others barely making ends meet as they turn to whatever will make them a quick buck. Even popular Channel 5 news anchor, Frank DeFauw, can do little but talk about the issue and present documentaries. After being pinkslipped by his school, Giordano decides that something must be done and concocts a plan to bring about significant change. He wants to rid the city of at least one major illegal drug importer, Steven ‘The Bank’ Monelli. Kidnapping someone within the Monelli family, Giordano seeks to have the drug trade stop for good and Monelli pay a price for all the horror he has caused. However, while it may seem heroic, Giordano does not realize the reach this man has or the lengths to which he will go to wipeout anyone seeking to sully the Monelli name. It’s a race to the finish, pitting brains against brawn, with a feisty news anchor in the middle to report on it all. Another powerful novel that tells the story in a raw and honest fashion. LoCicero pulls the reader into the middle of the struggles many have only seen during news clips, refusing to dial down the way of life that was (and likely is) inner-city Detroit. Perfect for those wishing to read a fast-paced crime thriller that will surely leave the reader well out of their comfort zone.

I have never lived in the inner-city, nor have I been exposed to some of the horrors that LoCicero depicts in this story. I was able to live comfortable and see these sorts of stories stream over the news, as one of the American stations on our television used a Detroit affiliate. LoCicero has chosen his characters well to depict not only the abject poverty seen within the city, but also the lengths to which some people will go to earn their keep. From mob bosses to journalists, teachers with rose-coloured glasses to overworked social workers, LoCicero depicts them all and shows how things intertwine to create a wonderful story as well as a narrative that is full of depth and despair. The story itself may not be unique, but the depiction of one man, John Giordano, doing whatever it takes to bring about change to a city he has seen crumbling around him, speaks volumes. While it is not entirely possible to know for sure what LoCicero is attempting to do here, it is fairly apparent that there is a call to arms seeking to highlight what is going on and how it needs fixing. I would venture to say that Detroit could be replaced with many other mid-sized cities across North America, all with the same social, economic, and political issues. The end result is all the same; ignore the problem and it will not go away, but get worse. Rigged elections and politicians who do not give a ‘tweet’ about anything but themselves aside, there are many issues within the confines of the city limits that are not being addressed and this ‘cancer’ is only spreading. LoCicero pulls no punches, but it is up to the reader to take the message to heart, and run with it. 

Kudos, Mr. LoCicero for another enjoyable piece. I could not put this book down and I am excited to rush into the final book in the series, where I may get another look into the social issues that plague the inner-city.

The Car Bomb (Detroit Im Dyin Trilogy #1), T.V. LoCicero

Seven stars

First and foremost, thank you to T. V. LoCicero for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Returning to my independent author list, I found this piece. Having never read any LoCicero, I thought I would entertain his request to see how it worked for me. Set in 1992 Detroit, I was never sure what to expect, though the title and the cover image (a car engulfed in flames) left me wondering if this would be a gang-based thriller on the rough inner-city streets. How I have learned not to judge a book by its cover! In a quiet neighbourhood, a woman loads her children into the family car. When she turns the key in the ignition, it explodes and kills them all. ‘Face of the Channel 5 News’ Frank DeFauw learns of the incident and rushes to make some sense of it. DeFauw, a philandering man with deep celebrity roots in the community, has a way to extract information out of people and delivers it with aplomb to his watching public. Trying to piece everything together, DeFauw learns that Anthony Peoples was not on scene when his family perished and considers that this might be retribution for a drug-deal gone wrong. However, scouring the streets and making on-air pleas, DeFauw reaches out to Peoples and hopes that they can talk. Peoples spills the beans on a large bribery scandal that got him off charges of murder, but which also involves some of the high-ranking officials in Detroit’s judicial community. DeFauw tries to piece it all together while fighting the demons of his personal struggles and a wife who wants a divorce as he refuses to be faithful. However, gritty journalistic determination rushes through DeFauw’s veins and he will stop at nothing to air the truth, even if it costs him everything. A great story that LoCicero has created, the first in a trilogy of novels. A decent read for those who enjoy a little throwback when reading crime stories, peppered with some less than savoury backstories.

As I have said before, independent author reads tend to be hit and miss for me. Going into this one, I was not sure how it might play out, but LoCicero presented a strong story and peppered it with just the right amount of salacious activity by our protagonist on the gritty streets of Detroit. The characters are a wonderful collection of varied individuals, their characteristics bringing the story to life. LoCicero knows precisely how to pull the reader in while exuding some dislike towards some of the antics taken. While the story was not overly complex, it was enjoyable and flowed well, with short chapters and a few cliffhangers. The length of time it took me to complete the read should not be indicative of my enjoyment of the entire process. Life tosses up roadblocks at times, though when I was able to pick up the book, I flew through section with ease. LoCicero is not new to the writing game and it shows in this well-developed piece, which has me wondering about the second novel. Could DeFauw be back for more fun and games, or has he hung up his glitz to make room for a new and exciting journalist in town? Only time will tell.

Kudos, Mr. LoCicero for this enjoyable piece. I enjoyed how you brought the story and Detroit to life. I am happy that you reached out and asked me to review this book. Has me curious about more relating to Detroit.