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Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman
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Small Crimes

by Dave Zeltserman

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694173,491 (3.5)3
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Joe Denton, ex-cop, ex-cokehead, ex-arsonist, is released on early parole after having spent only seven years in a jail instead of doing 20 years in a maximum security prison. He had slashed the face of the district attorney who stumbled on him during a robbery attempt and then he had tried to set fire to the office. Joe wants nothing better than to get his act together and be left alone. Unfortunately, the corrupt sheriff who had kept Joe out of maximum security in return for keeping quiet about the crimes they had committed, now wants Joe to kill a prospective informer or the DA who ever since his disfigurement has made a crusade of trying to root out all the corruption in the community.

Since the narrator is totally unreliable, one never quite knows the truth of the story as he recounts it, nor his motivations. Joe is abandoned by his parents, his ex-wife, his former colleagues, everyone. The police are all corrupt, he is manipulated and betrayed at every turn. We try to feel sorry for him, yet one wonders all the while of his true motivation. Does he really want to support his children, does he really like Charlotte, does he really want to stay off cocaine. He’s ostensibly a very bright guy who has gone horribly wrong. Yet how much of it is self-delusional.

Very hard to put down. I read this because I had enjoyed Zeltserman’s Julius Katz charming stories. This book is very different but very good. He is definitely on my list of not-to-miss authors. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
A surprisingly solid crime and action novel, and while based in a small town is no small achievement. The main character Joe Denton is an ex-cop just released from prison for brutally stabbing a district attorney while under the influence. Denton is a gambling addict whose previous actions have betrayed his family and daughters--a fact that the author does not paint into the story enough. While burying Denton's history as driver for the motivations of his ex-wife, parents and community members may make the protagonist someone who is appealing, continued bad guys trying to snuff life and/or money from Denton makes this almost a noir work. Characters were a bit underdeveloped but the book was well edited, taut, and gut-wrenching at times. All too realistic, the ending includes a requisite twist that is unpredictable and rewarding. ( )
  shawnd | Apr 18, 2010 |
A good book that kept me interested to the end with the innumerable ways the author found of inflicting fresh misery on the central character. In the beginning I felt a certain amount of sympathy for Joe Denton but it had faded by the end and was only interested in finding out whether he could emerge unscathed and I didn't foresee the conclusion. I will certainly keep an eye out for more of Zeltserman's work and at 7 out of 10 it probably was hard done by following up so soon after some quite superb novels. ( )
  johnbsheridan | Jan 26, 2010 |
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Recently released from jail, crooked cop Joe Denton has a worse problem than being unwanted--local Mafia don Manny Vassey, who is dying of cancer, is considering making a deal with the district attorney, a deal that would send Joe back to jail for a long time.… (more)

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