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Shadow Boys (A Jon Cantrell Thriller) by…
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Shadow Boys (A Jon Cantrell Thriller) (2014)

by Harry Hunsicker

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Author Harry Hunsicker spins tales of Dallas that don’t fit the glitzy image advocated by the Chamber of Commerce. His Dallas is one of dope dens, backstabbing in the barrios as well as city hall, a river and a roadway system that was deliberately constructed to divide the rich and poor, where the ends justify the means in you are on the winning side of the deal. Where the streets are paved with broken dreams amidst the cracked asphalt and where babies are born with no hope and no chance to get out. This view was part of the backbone of his very good Lee Henry Oswald Mystery Series (begin with Still River) and is also present in the Jon Cantrell Thriller Series. The second book in the series, Shadow Boys, picks up a few months after, The Contractors and leads readers on a history lesson while dealing with a violence fueled here and now though not all of the violence comes by way a weapon.

When he isn’t messing with the tourists at the Grassy Knoll by tossing around empty rifle cartridges, Jon Cantrell works for a law firm out of Washington, D. C. He is paid well to discreetly handle situations that arise when government shipments of important cargo are not returned or fall into the wrong hands. While the law firm prefers that he not moonlight, in this case, his boss has granted Jon Cantrell permission to meet with someone that they would like to have a relationship with going forward.

That someone is Deputy Chief Raul Delgado of the Dallas Police Department who is a rising star in the DPD despite, or maybe inspite, of his violent background. The movers and shakers have begun grooming Delgado and offering advice as they believe that he is a person who someday might be sitting in the governor’s mansion down in Austin or occupying a legislative seat in Washington. The same drive that got Delgado to where is now is the same drive that in some ways is preventing him from rising further. While aware of that dichotomy, Delgado is more focused on a mission of a personal nature. Delgado wants a certain 13 year old autistic boy who lives with his elderly grandmother in West Dallas found. The child has been possibly missing for a few days now and the details of his living situation are very sketchy. Delgado can’t use the vast resources of the DPD and needs a man with the proper skills as well as being sufficiently motivated to get the job done. Considering the boy’s name is Tremont Washington Jon Cantrell is most definitely the man on both counts. Not only does he have the skill set, Jon Cantrell owes a debt to Tremont’s father that he can never repay. Cantrell is also seriously annoyed that despite what he had been told by the Texas Department of Public Safety ten years ago the family was never relocated to California and has remained in a very bad situation in West Dallas.

Tremont Washington has to be found. That storyline is the primary storyline for the book which features several other storylines all interconnected in various ways to the primary hunt for the child. Throw in a missing government weapons shipment, an out of control SWAT officer, city politics, and a series of vigilante murders, among other items, and things get very interesting in the Texas heat.

Shadow Boys is a fast moving and intense read that surpasses the first book, The Contractors. Interspaced with the action and the mystery are small flashes of cynical and often sarcastic humor. Violence comes in many forms in this thriller as does political expediency and deceit. As in the first book of the series, there is some hard edged sarcasm about the city along the Trinity River that has no real reason for being other than sheer force of will. While the Chamber of Commerce may hate Hunsicker’s non photo shopped version of Big D, the author showcases yet again that he has a very good understanding of makes the city and its residents tick in various ways. Along the way he delivers a complex thriller that crisscrosses time and space all across the city proving that Shadow Boys is one book to make sure and read.

Book Three in the series is titled THE GRID and was released August, 2015. The book is in my tbr pile and will be read and reviewed soon.

Shadow Boys (A Jon Cantrell Thriller Book 2)
Harry Hunsicker
http://www.harryhunsicker.com
Thomas & Mercer
http://www.apub.com
December 2014
ISBN#: 978-1477825754
Paperback (also available in e-book and audio forms)
384 Pages
$8.99

Material was supplied by the author quite some time ago in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2015 ( )
  kevinrtipple | Sep 12, 2015 |
Story was pretty good, just had a lot of different things going and seemed it was a struggle to get everything connected.

Will read another Cantrell story. ( )
  headmiller77 | Feb 18, 2015 |
My second novel from Amazon's Thomas and Mercer imprint, and a much better experience than the first - this one would be at 2.5 stars if half stars worked. Still, Shadow Boys left a lot to be desired. It's not really a mystery or a detective story; it's an episode in the life of a character who happens to work in a field where detecting shows up. Since it's about the character, not the story, the story ends with a whimper. The character, however, isn't a likeable, noble, or decent guy, and so the story is the only bait to make you want to spend time with him. Misdirection abounds, on a couple of different levels, postponing the realization that the story is thin. The writing itself was competent, and the pacing was decent (if you can tolerate a BOGOF special on flashbacks), but if in the end there isn't a gripping story or a character I want to spent time with, then it's hard to like the book. ( )
  cjsdg | Jan 22, 2015 |
Harry Hunsicker is a Dallas-based writer whose five crime novels, although they feature two different Mr. Fix-It-type characters, have all been set in that city. The first three books feature Lee Henry Oswald, a man whose very name is certain to cause him problems in a city still scarred by one of the most infamous political assassinations in American history. The main character of Hunsicker’s two most recent books, including The Shadow Boys, is one John Cantrell – ex-cop, ex-DEA contractor – who shares Mr. Oswald’s line of work.

As The Shadow Boys opens, John Cantrell is happy enough with his new job, one in which he “fixes” problems for a local law firm. Cantrell is good at making problems go away, something that the firm and its clients appreciate. But when Piper, Cantrell’s ex-girlfriend, asks him to sit down with a high-ranking Dallas cop who needs some help, things get complicated fast. Raul Delgado, the Dallas white-collar cop in question, is looking for a little boy who has gone missing, but he would rather not involve the Dallas Police Department in his search for the boy.

Delgado, as it turns out, has a soft spot for poor kids growing up on the streets of Dallas because years earlier he himself had been one of those kids. He, though, was one of the lucky ones. Someone cared enough about kids like him to offer him a chance at a different future, and now, forty years after he saw his brother die at the hands of a racist Dallas cop, Delgado is one of the highest ranking policemen in the entire city.

Cantrell, largely because he still has a thing for his ex, reluctantly agrees to search for the missing boy. But, in the meantime, someone in Dallas has taken it upon himself to clean up the streets vigilante-style, and when that vigilante becomes aware of Cantrell’s search for the missing boy, part of Dallas turns into a war zone. Is the missing boy somehow tied to this killer? All Cantrell knows is that, if he is to survive long enough to find out, it is probably more important that he find the shooter than the missing boy.

Hunsicker takes the reader on quite a ride in The Shadow Boys. There is no shortage of suspects – or for that matter, of good guys - in this noirish thriller, and readers failing to pay attention to plot and character development could get lost along the way. Keep that from happening…and this one will be a fun read. ( )
  SamSattler | Jan 5, 2015 |
Other reviewers go into the details of how and why the writing in this book is so unsatisfying. There is too much jumping around between characters and times and it all gets confusing. Who is talking? When is the action taking place? The plot is very unlikely and there is too much violence that has no purpose except to shock the reader.

I received a review copy of "Shadow Boys" by Harry Hunsicker (Amazon Publishing) through NetGalley.com. ( )
  Dokfintong | Dec 27, 2014 |
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