Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Review: 'Rampage' by Alan Brenham

Alan Behr, a criminal law attorney and former police officer in Austin, Texas, takes on the moniker Alan Brenham for his second career as a writer. His debut novel, PRIDE OF JUSTICE was a certified winner with awards bestowed. His second novel CORNERED bested the initial entry and now he offers RAMPAGE – more action and finer polish than those first two jewels. Working in both criminal prosecution and defense (as well as an on the ground police officer) gives him a special insight to write novels about crime and the intricacies - both positive and negative - of the criminal justice system. It also allows him scrutiny of the `good cop/bad cop' conundrum that steps beyond the writings of most other authors less exposed to the realities of our justice system. Couple these facts his natural bent for writing and the result is another novel of great distinction.

This time around we meet another Brenham detective – Jason Scarsdale – and from Alan’s synopsis we get the gist of the tale: ‘The stakes soar, both professionally and personally, for Austin PD Detective Jason Scarsdale as he finds himself in a race against time to hunt down a vicious gang hell-bent on murder. Realizing that his new partner, the attractive divorcee Tatum Harper, could be trouble in more ways than one, he tries to run her out of Homicide. Will their partnership destroy his romantic relationship with long-time girlfriend Dani Mueller? Will they both survive the harrowing face-off with the increasingly unhinged gang leader.’

Alan knows that thrillers must grab you from the first page if they are to keep your sense of inquisitiveness, and so he plunges us in with the following: ‘It was after ten that night when the Dodge sedan stopped next to the curb. Two shadowy figures eyeballed the single-story home and the blue Toyota SUV parked in the driveway. Light shined through slats in the blinds of an enormous picture window about five feet from the front door. To the right of the door were two side-by-side windows, both lit up. “Are you sure this is his house? It looks different at night,” the driver said. “Damn right, I’m sure.” The passenger laid the rifle barrel on the edge of the window. “So now what?” “We wait until the son of a bitch walks in front of that window.” The passenger shifted in the seat to get a clear field of fire right at the window. “Then boom. One dead cop.”
And that is merely page one of a novel with so many surprises and twists and turns that the reader grows into a detective’s mind mold.

Brenham's mastery of works and sense of tension and the realities of being a detective and finding ways to piece together a thriller while having his hero under the microscope of the criminals with life ending intentions is second to none. He is a master at molding these criminal tales and likely (and hopefully) there are more coming down the line. For those who love police/crime novels this is one of the best, and it certainly suggests that Alan Brenham has found his niche. Grady Harp, July 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.