American Spartan (City of Forts 2) by Jason Beech

Book Description

A rookie cop. A town on fire. Can he execute justice and survive? It starts with a newspaper article. An economic miracle. A run-down town in the Midwest transformed. One man has effected this change, poured his wealth into converting old factories into new ventures, Main Street into a hub for deep-pocketed incomers, and put a spring into the step of a place people once avoided.Ricky Nardilo, all grown-up, a rookie cop, isn’t having it. The man who has brought this boom is the man who shot him in his youth. The man whose son Ricky killed. He owns the town, he owns the local politicians, he owns the police force Ricky works for. As Ricky aims down the muzzle of his gun at this bigshot, his struggle between a quiet, complicit life and a personal war will tear him apart and drag old friends and family into a chaos he never thought possible.

My Review

I was sent a review copy of American Spartan in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Carly Rheilan and Jason Beech!

American Spartan, sequel to The City of Forts, is a police story told entirely from the third person perspective of rookie cop Ricky Nardillo, whose partner Dave Heiller is a mean bully, who more often than not turns off his body cam when arresting someone and expects Ricky to do the same.

The town in which this story plays out is a festering cesspool of drugs, murder, corrupt police and ruled over by a property tycoon gangster called Harry Vale, who stands way above the law. It is a place where kids have to grow up fast and learn how to survive, as Ricky and his friends discovered to their detriment in The City of Forts and now Ricky’s teenage brother must also discover this fact of his life.

Ricky is dancing on the edge of corruption – Heiller tempts him and tries to suck him into the circle of trusted bent cops he has developed. At first Ricky appears to be morally upstanding, contrite about having killed Vale’s son when he was a teenager, but he doesn’t report it when he accidentally kills Tommy Ithaca in the woods or when his brother Brett does criminal damage to some cars. Instead he pays off the owners – corruption appears to be beckoning him. He joined the police force as a way to be safe from Vale, but doesn’t really see himself as a law enforcement officer:

He’d not joined the police for altruistic reasons, but neither did he join to make it worse.

Ricky is embroiled in a seething nest of vipers unsure who is in Vale’s pocket and who is straight:

Greedy men twist their principles when it suits them.

He worries his teenage brother, Brett will get sucked into Vale’s underworld and wants to protect him, but all his life, Brett has been protected and cocooned by his mother and Ricky and now is feeling like a caged animal just waiting to burst out and align himself with whoever is willing to give him some attention.

Ricky is tempted to go live in New York with Liz, his childhood friend who he wishes was more than a friend,  but needs to stay in town in order to keep an eye on Brett and his mother. 

Can Ricky come up with a plan to give Vale and all the bent cops their comeuppance and save his own life and that of his mother and brother in the process? It seems like a very tall order for most of the story. Things appeared to be going from bad to worse for Ricky as the story developed and I began to wonder if anyone would still be alive by the end.

There is a lot of killing in this novel. None of the characters were very likeable, apart from Ricky, who I found myself rooting for not to go over to the corrupt side. The only characters who didn’t commit murder were Ricky’s mother, his elderly neighbours and Liz, his childhood friend.

The pace of this novel builds up into a fair amount of action sequences, and there is plenty of tension and excitement during those!  The prose flows smoothly and pulls you along with it. If you are a fan of crime novels you will definitely enjoy American Spartan!

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About the Author

Sheffield native, New Jersey resident — writes crime fiction. His coming-of-age crime drama City of Forts was described as “tense, atmospheric, and haunting” by UK crime writer Paul D. Brazill.

You can buy Jason’s work from Amazon and read his work at Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey, Close to the Bone, The Flash Fiction Offensive, and Pulp Metal Magazine.

His latest novel, American Spartan, is a sequel to 2018’s City of Forts.

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