Monday, December 30, 2019

Book Review: 'Full Moon Saturday Night' by Mark Barkawitz

Full Moon Saturday Night by Mark Barkawitz

One exceptionally fine thriller!

California author Mark Barkawitz is a screenwriter, actor, creative writing teacher, athlete and track coach whose fiction, essays, poetry and screenwriting have won multiple awards. His books to date include GIANT KILLERS, THE DOG WITH THE OPPOSABLE THUMB, 29 AGAIN AND OTHER CANCER-FIGHTING STORIES, and now FULL MOON SATURDAY NIGHT. In addition to his many literary accomplishments, Mark is a cancer survivor whose indomitable spirit has influenced many with critical illnesses as well as bringing support to the City of Hope research and patient care. He lives in Pasadena, California. 

Perhaps Mark’s skills, outlined in brief above, gained in screenwriting and in dealing with the ‘wages of life,’ are in part responsible for this exceptionally fine thriller. But whatever the nidus for his talent, this new novel places him solidly in the forefront of contemporary fiction authors. He is able to convey a breathlessly paced mystery while peppering it with a wry humor that serves to make his prose unique.

A sample of Mark’s talent opens his story – ‘When our dates for the party excused themselves to use the bathroom, I took advantage of their absence and leaned closer to Cooper with his back to the wall. “Just so we’re straight,” I said confidentially, staring into his lazy eyes, a stupid smile on his sophomoric, look-I-can-grow-a-mustache-now face. “I don’t like you.” “What?” He seemed truly shocked by my candor. He was young, dumb, and handsome, dating my ex-girlfriend Mandy with eyes for my current girlfriend Marie. It was a small party: mostly undergrads from the state college from which I’d recently graduated and others. The music was loud, so no one appeared to take notice of my confrontation. “Why-why not, Mike?” He took a slug of his apple beer – clueless…’

Once the principal character Mike has been defined, the story revs up, and the plot unfolds – ‘Mike Hepp is an L.A. millennial post-grad, who dreams of making it big in the TV & film industry. He auditions by day and tends bar at night to satiate his massive student debt, credit card payments, and rent. Until one knuckle-busting, full moon Saturday night launches his life into complete upheaval, suddenly placing him in the middle of an international drug smuggling operation and an undercover police sting, consequently ruining his reputation in Hollywood. Can Mike survive his unsolicited undercover work and cleanse his sullied reputation? Or will he end up as shark bait for double-crossing the wrong people?’ Truth – and consequences, and the velocity of the action is way past the speed limit.

It is not often a book can be stamped “brilliant” but novel meets the criteria! Very highly recommended.

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.