Clawed Back from the Dead

Clawed Back from the Dead

By: John F. Rooney
Publisher: Senneff House Publishers
Publication Date: April 20, 2008
ISBN: 978-0975275696
Reviewed by: Will Gabbett
Review Date: October 22, 2008

In John F. Rooney’s latest novel, Clawed Back from the Dead, detective Denny Delaney reprises his role from Nine Lives Too Many. In this second book in the detective series, Delaney is enjoying a well-deserved break as a technical advisor to a film crew. Denny’s good friend and writer, Len Harrington is also involved with the making of the movie. Denny has his drinking under control, he’s making good money, and he has repaired his marriage to the beautiful Monica. Things are finally starting to fall into place for our troubled hero. That’s when the chaos and carnage begin. Actors, producers and writers associated with the film start turning up dead, and Len is the first among them. Denny is drawn in to a case that is suddenly very personal.

Rooney does a good job of developing an interesting story line and surrounding his hero with the same cast of characters he has in the past. Delaney is once again partnered with his friend Frank Millau, a sharp, no-nonsense law enforcement type whose calm and collected demeanor perfectly balances Denny’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to police work. Also back for another turn is FBI Special Agent Wexler, an impressively incompetent administrator who has somehow avoided unemployment by endearing himself to the higher-ups at the Justice Department. And in brief cameos, we are reacquainted with Delaney’s parents and his wife.

Curiously, most of the mystery here is over by page 50 as the true identity of the killer is revealed. What follows are a series of brief vignettes of the bad guy, the hero, and the supporting cast interacting in a seemingly random manner. The most compelling chapters of the book, once the killer is unmasked, are those dealing with the inner struggles the villain is having as he tries to rationalize his evil ways and at the same time connect with his new girlfriend. By the end of this book, I was much more interested in the fate of the bad guy and found myself rooting for him just a little bit during the painfully telegraphed anticlimax.

Rooney tries hard to make his dialog colloquial and campy, but it often comes off as stiff and overly verbose. As with his earlier work, Clawed Back from the Dead could have greatly benefited from a good editor.

Quill says: The author is simply not enough of a wordsmith to make this story click.

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