Alexander Dawson wants to be a writer, but times are tough and penny-a-page pulp fiction doesn’t pay the bills. So he’s happy to have the night shift as a bodyguard for the incumbent mayor. But when the mayor and Alex’s best friend and fellow bodyguard are assassinated, Alex finds himself in the middle of a nightmarish mystery.
With the police watching his every move, Alex must begin to unravel a deadly web of murder, corruption, and adultery. He’s a fish out of water and struggling to keep up with events over which he has no control. If he can stay alive, and that’s a big if, there might the chance of a new life and even love waiting for him. But a determined killer isn’t going to make things easy.
No Good Men is the first in a mystery series featuring protagonist Alex Dawson. This novel is something of a hit and miss. Alex is an interesting character, but he’s uneven. At times, he felt naive and a bit stupid and in other scenes, he acts like a trained detective. And admittedly he’s been thrown into a situation that he’s poorly prepared for so that may explain some of the awkwardness. His lover, Sev, is almost a non-entity. He serves as a go between for Alex and the mob, but he never materializes into a fully defined character of his own. The book has a host of secondary characters that are surprisingly dimensional given that half of them are dead by the end of No Good Men. It seems a shame to build characters that ultimately end up as bodies when the main characters needed so much more fleshing out.
Bodies and more bodies. This novel has all the murder a reader could want, but it lacks true mystery. I pegged the killer right from the beginning and the red herrings were almost laughable. The entire plot read as jumbled and almost chaotic as though the author couldn’t decide what they wanted the book to be. Mystery? Romance? Mob fiction? No Good Men wears all these hats at one time or another, but none of them fit particularly well. It touches on a lot of points and I think ultimately this was part of the problem. A book that deals with the Depression, socialism, political corruption, family drama and so on is going to have to work very hard to tie all of those things together and it just didn’t happen here.
No Good Men stumbled as a series starter. The plot is weak and the main character never reads as clear as he should. But there are some interesting aspects to the book and I think it has potential. Future volumes may build the world out further and give the main characters a more solid foundation to stand upon.