The first line of “Dead of Winter” says it all. “My house is quietly becoming Frankenstein’s monster.”
August Octavio Snow is a true Detroit native; he loves Motown music and is obsessed with cars, big US made muscle cars. (He strongly objects to making an exit in what? A Prius?) He is a marine, once and always, having been in Afghanistan, a.k.a., “the sand,” and at least for a minute, was a cop. He won a $12 million wrongful dismissal suit against the Detroit Police Department, but struggles with the dark pressures of life.
The story unfolds in Snow’s first-person narrative filled with both philosophy and humor. (He readily answers the doorbell, confident that he will not be mugged, beaten or eaten, since thieves, killers and zombies rarely use the doorbell.) Conversations reflect both the troubling and the hilariously inappropriate things that people say to each other. The vocabulary and cadence of the narrative set the tone of the story more than the events themselves; the strength of the story is in the telling.
Snow and his friends flip houses in the southwest Detroit neighborhood of Mexicantown. Rampant development is threatening local businesses as the neighborhood evolves into a hipster, urban-chic place to be. Mr. Ochoa, the owner of local landmark Authentico Foods, has already had a big cash offer. He wants Snow to buy everything both to keep it out of the hands of a big developer, and to allow him a life somewhere that is not a “frozen wasteland three-quarters of the year.” Of course nothing is simple, and what evolves is a detailed and difficult journey. Snow is accustomed to guns, knives, and revenge, however problematic personal issues must be resolved, and the past is waiting for revenge.
“Remind me again who the good guys are and who the bad guys are?”
Snow is on a long and violent journey, but he shows personal growth, changes his attitude, and makes a commitment to himself and others.
I received a review copy of “Dead of Winter” from Stephen Mack Jones and Soho Crime. “Dead of Winter” is book three in the “August Snow” series, but it is not necessary to have read the previous books. Everything a new reader needs to know is included in this narrative. However, once finished, new readers will certainly want to go back to read the two previous books.