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Review: Kate Kessler – Seven Crows

Official Thrillerfix Review

22 September 2019

Release Date: September 24, 2019 |  Review by Gavin Reese

 I didn’t realize how much I needed a female John Wick in my life… – Gavin Reese

If you haven’t aren’t reading Kate Kessler and her beautifully broken characters, you’re truly missing out. You owe it to yourself to meet Killian Delaney and see the world through her eyes for a few hundred pages. I didn’t realize how much I needed a female John Wick in my life…

"Just paroled from prison for avenging the death of her first love, Killian Delaney has a skewed moral compass, a high threshold for pain, and more than a few secrets. After her old enemies repeatedly failed to have her killed inside prison, they have her niece kidnapped by a biker gang with a nasty habit of sex slavery and human trafficking. Killian and her family can’t call the cops: by the time investigators can prove what they already know, it’ll be too late to save the teenage girl. Killian wades back into her old life, calls on longstanding loyalties unconcerned with the law, and sets about the chaos and violence necessary to put her part of the world back in order. All her past mistakes have forced her to this point and left her with no good options, so Killian knows any chance she has at redemption depends on her niece’s safe return. If she’s to have any hope of success, Killian will to risk her life, her brand-new freedom, and the love of a man finally worth her damaged heart."

Wow, what a ride! Even as a retired cop, I love a good antihero, and Kate Kessler has created a near-perfect one in Killian Delaney! For readers like me who love hardboiled realism and cheering on society’s underdogs, this novel is right up our dark and lonely alley.

I’ve written consistently about my love of authenticity in crime fiction, and Kessler delivers it in spades. Having some personal and professional experience with outlaw motorcycle gangs, who affectionately refer to themselves as “1%ers,” the characters convinced me of their righteous place in that world. However, instead of glamorizing crime, violence, and suffering, Kessler provided incredible and deep insight into the family- and loyalty-centric proponents of that lifestyle. The story holds strong parallels to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather in that its central themes are, in fact, family, loyalty, and strict adherence to a moral code. It just so happens that the family chooses to live and judge its existence outside the laws of “normal” society.

Most of the story is told through the perspective and experience of its main character, but Kessler gave us just enough additional points of view to keep me on the front edge of my seat and better informed than her cast. I like the raw, unapologetic style of her storytelling, for anything else would’ve made Killian feel like a caricature drawn by research, rather than a fully formed and formidable woman likely crafted through personal, real-life experience. 

I’d like the idea of having beers and trading stories with Killian Delaney, but only if she’s not mad at me. Killian is a total badass, and I’m pretty sure she can take me…just don’t tell her I said that…

Get your copy of Seven Crows here on Amazon.

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THRILLERFIX ALL-STAR REVIEWER: A former law enforcement officer, Gavin Reese wrote his first six crime thrillers between patrol shifts. An author, thriller aficionado, and podcast host, Gavin has interviewed some of the top names in the genre.  If you enjoy novels with authentic cops, crimes, and criminals, you'll want to follow Gavin Reese's book recommendations here on the Thrillerfix blog.

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