CRACKED: A DANNY CLEARY NOVEL by Barbra Leslie Reviewed


Barbra Leslie
November 2015
Titan Books

Danny Cleary’s life is scraping along at rock bottom. After her divorce from the love of her life, Danny has spiraled into a life of crack addiction with her best friend Gene, closing herself off from her family. But when she gets the call that her twin sister Ginger has been killed, Danny loads up and sets off for California with her younger brother Darren. The two siblings vow to do whatever it takes—WHATEVER it takes—to find out the truth about Ginger’s murder, and make the responsible party pay.

Danny Cleary is a powerful voice in this novel. Her crack addiction was an ever present part of the narrative, and never far from Danny’s mind, but she doesn’t necessarily want pity for her problem, nor does she make it seem glamorous. Danny is fairly self-aware about how terrible her addiction is and how it’s ruining her life. Yet her voice and character are entirely compelling—not least because of her darkly comic observations and snarky persona.

Violence is not something either of the Cleary siblings shies away from—and even though Danny tries to protect Darren from the ugliness, Danny really leans into it when she finds it necessary. I have to admit it was incredibly satisfying to see Danny break the arm of a drug dealer who certainly had it coming.

CRACKED takes both expected and unexpected turns, and Leslie isn’t afraid to make some heartbreaking choices. Blood-soaked and action-packed with an unexpectedly likable protagonist, this was a entirely enjoyable read. This looks to be the start of a trilogy, and I’ll be looking forward to reading more of Danny’s exploits and seeing where life takes her—to rehab, or further revenge?
Erica Ruth Neubauer