City Of Rose by Rob Hart Reviewed Some More
Fans of Rob Hart’s NEW YORKED won’t be disappointed by the return of Ashley “Ash” McKenna, the good hearted but admittedly damaged, sometimes dangerous, clever but not always smart private investigator (sort of) who always controls his anger, except when it controls him.
CITY OF ROSE is set in Portland, Oregon, where Ash has relocated after leaving New York in search of new beginnings, and away from those who may feel New York City isn’t big enough for their peaceful coexistence. In Portland, Ash is a bouncer and janitor at a fledgling strip club, Naturals. He is keeping to himself, trying to stay away from anything that he felt was the cause of the troubles he left behind, which seems to be everything. When Crystal, one of the dancers at Naturals, hearing exaggerated rumors of his experience as a PI, asks for his help finding her daughter, Ash turns her down. But a few hours and a pistol whipping later, he agrees to help, despite the promises of danger that come with it.
CITY OF ROSE is written in the same refreshingly dark and dirty style of Hart’s NEW YORKED. When trying to buy a six-pack of Guinness beer in a Portland brewery, the clerk, asks Ash, “Are you sure?” and gives him a sample of their own micro-brewed IPA:
“Isn’t that awesome?” he (the clerk) asks. “That’s sixty-eight IBU. That’s like nuclear hops.”
“I hate you,” I tell him, trying not to gag. “Sell me the Guinness.”
He rolls his eyes. “If you insist.”
“Yeah motherfucker, I do insist.”
He runs the transaction through, takes my money, and even though I’ve got my hand out he puts the change down on the counter, turning away from me like I’ve insulted his mother.
The characters are rich and dynamic. Of course there’s Ash and Crystal, but some secondary characters are well developed, too. Tommie, the lesbian proprietor of Naturals who claims to have had the idea of a Vegan strip club first! And Hood, Ash’s counterpart at the bar, fan of Battlestar Galactica, nicknamed after Mt. Hood because of his size.
Like the great characters, the plot won’t disappoint, either. It is fast paced, balanced nicely, and kept me in suspense. Like a good story, the mystery wasn’t apparent until Hart wanted it to be, and it was not what most readers would expect.