This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
06.05.20 / Crime / Independently Published / Paperback / 189pp / 978-8643634027
About Rico Stays
After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’s hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.
When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished, but three goons who had tried to help him lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.
Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found by men who surely would be looking. A place like the cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once. Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history. Or Paul’s fascination with him.
Using Rico’s girlfriend as bait, vengeful killers soon would be coming for him. The only question was whether he would face them alone or with help from Paul.
Part three of Ed Duncan’s Pigeon-Blood Red series, Rico Stays, is a tense, urgent and morally charged thriller centred around stoic, hardened yet merciful killer-for-hire, Richard ‘Rico’ Sanders. Ed Duncan is not messing around with Rico Stays, it gets out of hand really fast and remains so until its fierce and manic finale. This series has such a solid cast, who all return full force, and as the threats to their lives get increasingly ugly and unpredictable, we get to see more of their motivations, principles and survival instincts than ever before.
Rico is a badass, usually in control and ahead of the game but this narrative sees Rico weak, vulnerable (though he does his best to hide it) and concerned for the safety of those he surrounds himself with. The plot begins with Rico being gunned down during an altercation between a kid, an old man and the sleazy hot-headed nephew of the local mob boss. The nephew, Larry, had armed friends in the neighbourhood that decided to get involved in the matter and Rico, thinking on his feet, manages to take them down but not before they critically injure him in process.
Larry, unable to kill Rico then and there, escapes the chaos and begins plotting his bloody retaliation for this act of unforgivable disrespect. The uncle has an existing relationship with Rico and orders Larry to leave it. Larry can’t forget it, Rico needs to die and Larry has the perfect person in mind to help him do it. Rico’s girlfriend Jean, knowing he’s too proud to do it himself, asks their lawyer acquaintance Paul Elliott for help hiding Rico until he can recover enough to deal with whatever is coming his way.
The two impatient killers begin their hunt for Rico by murdering an innocent friend during an attempt at getting information about his whereabouts. Despite his injuries Rico is forced to get involved before more people suffer because of his actions. Rico Stays is an impulsive, quick-fire and well paced thriller populated with intriguing (and unsettling) characters and strong morale themes that is a worthwhile novel for all kinds of readers. I wanted even more!
My chief complaint is that Ed Duncan could have gone into way more detail and I would have been even happier with Rico Stays. Though for readers who want an almost bite-size narrative this is perfect. There are so many great moments, ideas and interactions between characters that could have gone on for longer. Newcomer Cleveland Russell is a classic example of this. Cleveland goes through way too much too quickly and it would have been great to see more of his plot points have been explored and fleshed out. Ed Duncan has an impressive knack for creating memorable characters. Characters you want to invest in. The whole series has focused on individuals like Rico, Jean and Paul but I still want to know more about them. I certainly hope that this is not the end of this story as I am not ready to abandon this cast just yet.
Ed Duncan’s emphasis on moral choices and ideals are interesting and consistent throughout each instalment of the series. In Rico Stays there is a constant focus on good vs bad and its impact on each characters lives. Lawyer Paul Elliott battles with his impulse to be a fervently good person all the time and when that goodness gets in the way of his relationship with Evelyn, leading to an even worse decision, he has to reflect on his desire to be more like Rico. It’s that kind of character development that is so engaging and hard to resist.
The Pigeon-Blood Red series is not re-defining the thriller genre by any means but each story is a great example of quick witted, action packed and accessible thrillers that you can consume one after the other with ease. Ed Duncan is passionate about the thriller genre and his efforts at writing decent, grounded and intense crime fiction are most definitely worthy of our attention. It is very satisfying to see Ed Duncan evolving as each instalment of the Pigeon-Blood Red series comes out and based on the chaos present in Rico Stays, the next book will be uncomfortably intense. I hope so anyway!
About Ed Duncan
Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He is the original author of a highly regarded legal treatise entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage1 published by Thomson West in 2008 which he updated annually through 2012. Ed currently lives outside of Cleveland and recently completed the third installment of the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy, Rico Stays.