My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rise of The Black Hand is the debut novel by US writer, C. J. Fella, and is the first in a series. The book is an effective mix of futuristic science fiction and old-school, hard-boiled detective fiction. The story follows the wise-cracking and rather violent exploits of FBI agent and part-time PI, Thomas Morelli, on a case in Seattle, Washington, in the year 2229. One of his friend’s fathers has gone missing and, while searching for clues, Morelli and his partner, Eddie Shannon, stumble across a warehouse full of guns and gangsters, a new wannabe godfather figure and more goons’ fists than you can shake the proverbial stick at. With a nice line in smart comebacks, a revolutionary, enhanced self-healing body and an apparently endless supply of glamorous women ready to hand over a cup of coffee, a whisky or their phone number, Morelli is ready to take on the new bad guys in town.
Rise of The Black Hand starts in the middle of the action and grabs you like a henchman round the throat from page one. The plot is entertaining, although it does meander along at some points before getting back on track. There are lots of nice hard-boiled mystery touches, with enough sci-fi to keep its take on the genre fresh and original. The story reads like an action-filled thriller with cartoonish violence, although the seemingly constant beatings followed by coffee, a shower, some coffee, a whisky and more coffee does get a little repetitive (did I mention they drink a lot of coffee?!) That said, Morelli and his sidekicks are likeable characters and the villains of the piece are suitably menacing. C. J. Fella has created a very original premise and a fun story, and I would be interested to see where it leads next. Reviewed by Julia for Readers’ Favorite.