As you probably can tell from my review history on Reflections, I’m quite the fan of a good action novel. If it involves the adjectives death-defying, pulse raising, nail-biting, etc, I’m in. I understand that a lot of times I don’t turn to these books to satisfy a need for an in-depth analysis of complex topics or multi-dimensional themes, instead I just look for a solid story that will make me turn the pages and keep me hooked from the beginning to end. Therefore, at least in the context of action/adventure books, my needs are simple. And so, when I received a copy of Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano, I expected no different. I opened the book and prepared for a good story that hopefully wouldn’t keep me up too late at night. And boy, was I wrong.
Resurrection Express begins with a man, Elroy Coffin, in jail. Although he doesn’t exactly look the part, he is a trained martial artist and hacker that has been involved with crime and an “alternate” lifestyle for as long as he can remember. Growing up he worked with his father, Ringo Coffin, a legendary safe-cracker whom Elroy was eventually slated to replace and take over the “family business”. However, this was before David Hartman happened. Elroy and Ringo had worked for Hartman for a long time, but Hartman had become too obsessed with himself and his own empire to care about them any longer. Now, Elroy is in jail after barely surviving a gunshot wound to the head, and his father and wife, Tori, are presumed dead all because of Hartman’s power-hungry attempts to destroy Elroy for good. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, when a “concerned citizen” visits Elroy in jail and gives him proof that his father and wife are in fact still alive. She can coordinate his release from jail and protection in exchange for his full cooperation on her team. Their goal is to recover something that she lost that is now owned by Hartman and his empire. At the end of his rope, Elroy agrees, and enters into a whirlwind of action and adventure that is unrelenting to the very end.
Like I said before, I was expecting a pseudo-stereotypical plot to emerge from this novel. From the beginning, Romano’s writing style reminded me of a gritty crime novel, short on verbiage but long on description and comparison. He throws a lot of information at you, fast, and doesn’t allow much time for digestion. I felt as if I was on the run along with Elroy, dodging bullets and only partially filled in on the overall plan by this “concerned citizen”. One of my favorite passages was when Romano wrote, “a .375 Korth revolver, 38 caliber, the kind of gun that giants with big hands use when they wanna blow holes in nouns. That’s people, places, and things.” Slightly poetic, but very badass. To be honest, I kept picturing Max Payne when reading this novel, as it had a similar feel and flow as the video game. I loved the slightly disjointed nature of the plot at times, which made me think and connect the dots with little assistance. Therefore, when it all came together in the end, it was even more eye-popping.
Perhaps it’s just because I’m a big fan of film noir and old crime movies like Double Indemnity, but I couldn’t get enough of Romano’s story. It was a departure from the typical smash and grab crime novel, and there were few clichés to be found. Overall, I thought it was an extremely strong offering from Romano that has definitely left me seeking his other novels. This one is definitely worth a try!
5 out of 5 stars
Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano
Gallery Books (2012)
Hardcover: 437 pages
Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy!