Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review: 'Nefarious (Mitch Black Series Book 1)' by Mark Stephen O'Neal

Nefarious (Mitch Black Series Book 1) by [O'Neal, Mark Stephen]
”Lowlifes come with the territory, college boy.”

Chicago author Mark Stephen O’Neal writes urban crime fiction books. He has published five novels to date and NEFARIOUS is Book 1 of a new series the MITCH BLACK SERIES. Mark makes it a point to inform us he is African American – and his novels focus on African American characters. This is a refreshing advance in equality in literature.

The title NEFARIOUS suggests the direction of the story: nefarious is defined as wicked or criminal – and that describes some of the characters Mark has created. The flavor of Mark’s opening pages sets the tone well for this urban crime novel. ‘Mitch Black’s daily routine was interrupted at the 147th East exit with a lane closure and traffic buildup all the way to Bishop Ford Expressway split and beyond. He lived in the township of Lynwood, Illinois, a southern suburb on the outskirts of Chicago. “Man, this is unbelievable!” Mitch shouted to himself. “Why is there road construction going on in the middle of rush hour?! Do they even care that some of us still have to go to work/ Damn.” …When he was fifteen minutes form downtown, he thought of stopping for a breakfast sandwich and coffee before work. Before the light turned green, he saw his college roommate crossing the street. He turned right on Seventy-First Street and parked his car. “Yo, Max!” Mitch shouted, trying to get his attention. “What’s up, man?” “Black?” Max asked, looking in Mitch’s direction with blood-shot eyes…”

The flavor of Chicago is set and the two principal figures in the story have been introduced. So where does the plot take us? ‘Mitch Black is young, handsome and rich. He became a millionaire before the age of thirty by playing the stock market and opening up a nightclub with his cousin, Wesley Hunter. Mitch is also married, but he still enjoys playing the field. However, Mitch's life changes forever when he crosses paths with the beautiful Brea Jones. He falls head over heels in love with her, and his life soon goes on a downward spiral that doesn't stop until he hits rock bottom. He also experiences betrayal, personal loss, and tragedy. Will Mitch pick up the pieces of his broken life and turn things around, or will he get caught up in his quest for vengeance?’

Mark’s signature is the manner in which he tells his story with almost solid conversation. It works, better than extraneous descriptions. The characters he has created should serve him well as this new series progresses. Mark is a welcome new voice in the crime novel genre> Grady Harp, January 19

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.

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