I have just finished reading two gripping crime thrillers by John Reinhard Dizon, WOLFMAN and TIARA. Having read the two of them in quick succession, I really feel that I have begun to come to grips with the ‘war-spy-crime-thriller’ genre and the character of an author whose background as a musician, pro-wrestler and writer must be a “front” for a past career as a spy, soldier of fortune or undercover police operative – though we’ll never know this for sure. Everything he writes testifies to an intimate knowledge of Uzis, AK-47s, rocket grenades and the dirty sides of the two of the most vicious and enduring conflicts in recent history: the relatively brief but genocidal war in the Balkans and the decades-long murderous struggle in Northern Ireland.
WOLFMAN is a short novel or novella set in both the Accursed Mountains along the Albanian border in Kosova and in the seamy streets of New York controlled by drug-dealers and traffickers in human body parts. The blighted hero is photojournalist Steve Lurgan who escapes death in Kosova only to find it return to haunt him as only a living death can. He desperately tries to believe that he can find love, leaving behind him a trail of carnage as he battles the dregs of criminal life while avoiding police scrutiny and trying to save the woman he loves at a distance from a gradual descent into her own personal hell. Lurgan’s character is well-drawn and believable despite the transformations he undergoes. The description of little-known criminal sidelines carried on during the war in Kosova and echoed in the streets of New York are frightening and intensely realistic. This is a fast moving, spirited, leanly written and action-packed short novel that deserves the epithet of being “a real page turner” that keeps you in suspense until the very end. It is highly recommended.
In TIARA, Dizon takes on the impossibly bitter and uncompromising conflict in Northern Ireland at the time of the Stormont peace talks. This is another fast-moving, action-packed crime-thriller centring around the abduction of an imaginary member of the British Royal Family. The anti-hero, main male protagonist, Berlin Mansfield, is an enigmatic soldier of fortune who becomes embroiled in the kidnapping as a result of his fascination with the kidnapped Princess of Edinburgh. The necessarily invented names and titles of some of the characters nonetheless resonate with aspects of real-life members of British and European Royalty and their privileged lives are juxtaposed against the unrivalled realism of one of the worst civil conflicts in the twentieth century. In a work such as this the old adage that fiction necesssarily involves the temporary suspension of disbelief comes to mind. But the level of detailed knowledge of the political and criminal activities of gangsters, clandestine law enforcement operatives and international terrorists and mercenaries in an around the Northern ireland conflict makes a vivid background to a story of political intrique, cruelty, impossible love and thunderous gun battles. Rizon seems completely at home in this world and the few proofreading lapses can be forgiven as despite twists and turns, the plot moves quickly and fluidly towards its inevitable conclusion. Though it may raise some eyebrows in Britain and Northern Ireland, TIARA is a very enjoyable read and certainly recommended.
- Nano Spotlight: John Reinhard Dizon (kelworthfiles.wordpress.com)
- “Wolf Man” Available Soon on Damnation Books!!! (damnationbooks.wordpress.com)