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  • Authentic, gripping, brilliant!

    Have you come across such a strong ending that you screamed ‘Nooooooo!’ when the word End appears? I did when I finished Death Before Coffee. Then I almost called Mr Desmond P. Ryan bird names but realized that without his sadistic ways, I would not have been high on adrenaline for the last hours. I don’t lose it often when I read, so mark the date! (ps: I really like you and your books, Mr Ryan!!!) Let’s rewind so you can understand why I ended up in such a state… Death Before Coffee. For all the crime fiction I read, no other sentence has ever rung so true to the police calling. Coffee is always involved. I remember watching hours of TV shows where I could see patrol officers, detectives, and even big bosses, abandon their hot cup of beverage with the rapidity requited by the code called at that moment. While reading this book, I was reminded of the show New York 911. Yes, I know, Mike O’Shea is in Toronto, but I’ve always been terrible with geography. And no matter where you are, coffee and cops go hand in hand like the wind and a kite! Anyway! More on why I MUST compare Death Before Coffee to a show I was addicted to. Remember the author I almost insulted? Well, he is seasoned and skilled enough to write it as it is. No super-fast results, no Superman. Only people putting their lives on the line to make the streets safer… Or to appear in court to make sure bad guys get behind bars before going back out to collect the latest dead body left in an alley. Police work is no walk on sunshine, we all know it, but the dose of authenticity (and the number of ‘fuck’s) in this novel gives every event twice as much impact. It felt real, it appeared in front of my eye. I could smell the coffee (it again. Seriously, it’s a character in this book!), I could see the blood, I could wrinkle my nose at the scent of sweat and testosterone in the precinct. Like a true crime fiction, Death Before Coffee doesn’t ban the punches, the awkward situations, the messing up. You’re in the street, you are not safe, and you don’t count your hours. I read a lot of crime fiction and I love it when I can jump in the pages and lose myself in an investigation. But this time, it was different. It was made different by the weight of the past, by the routine of days of battle between bad and terrible, by the interactions between the characters. This latter point made everything better. Mike gets to partner up with a name from the past. I loved the hints of background between him and Ron. I loved the tension of their beginning, the development of their new relationship, and Ron’s famous words… You don’t get to choose who you work with, so you make do, and sometimes, just sometimes, it brings the best and the worst in you. Desmond Ryan has created truly relatable characters, men and women, to bring life to his book in the best way possible. Death by lead pipe. Violent start of a long shift. Right from the start, the detectives get on board, and I couldn’t help but smile at the ranks, and obviously, at the rookies’ mistakes. I visualized young guys facing their first crime scene. Would you remember to secure the area, to take the witnesses to the side and never out of sight? Would you get it all perfectly? No. Neither would I. I loved the passing of knowledge, the lessons learned, and the idea that the big police family passes the torch from one hand to the other, leaving a trail of fire and death in the way. You can see that the author has brought his own personal experience for the ride, as this book is one of the best, and darkest! I have read! Now the big deal: Mike O’Shea. Mystery man, crazy guy, damn good cop, unlucky dude. Oh, and I want his mother. There, I said it. You wanna know why? Grab the book! Back to the man himself. I loved being his shadow for a few days. Actually, those crazy shifts and the events slapping both Mike and the reader in the face over and over made each hour feel like a week, or a second, depending on the page you’re on! No time to breathe as Mike struggles with Homicide’s razor Amanda (Loved her!), a marital situation I didn’t envy him, his duties as a father and as a son. Desmond Ryan muddles everything up, the personal, the professional, and the past, to show Mike as a multi-layered, brilliant protagonist in the middle of a storm. I need more! Should I say anything about the case, I’d take part of the fun away, so I’ll keep my mouth shut and tell you that if you want a compelling, more real than real street ride, you need to read Death Before Coffee! In the meantime, I’m gonna get the first book in the series!!!

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