Review

Red Rain

by Michael Crow



Michael Crow is a pseudonym for a critically acclaimed novelist; I
would have guessed that he is Douglas Winter, except that Winter
has a laudatory, though accurate, blurb on the back of the cover of
RED RAIN, which seems to eliminate him as a suspect, though not
necessarily so. No matter who he is however, Crow has come up with
a winner.

RED RAIN --- the Peter Gabriel composition of the same name played
like a soundtrack in my head the whole time I was reading it --- is
a book about illicit drugs in general, and heroin in specific, the
men who haul it in and sell it, and the men who hunt them down. It
is told through in the first person, present tense, by Luther
Ewing, "Shooter" to his friends, a man whose humanity --- and
military career --- was scraped away from him in during the Gulf
War. Thank heaven he's on our side.

Shooter is expert in the science of firefights, where it's just you
and the bad guys, no pesky civil liberties, attorneys, or the like.
Just kill or be killed on the mean streets. He's the kind of
undercover cop that no one in their right mind wants on their squad
until the deal goes south and they're sitting looking down the
wrong end of a long barrel. Shooter is deep into the Baltimore
County undercover squad when his Gulf War past comes back to haunt
him. The Russian mob begins moving narcotics into the area, and
Shooter almost immediately recognizes the trademark brutality of
Vassily, his former comrade-in-arms, and the man who saved
Shooter's life in the heat of battle. Shooter knows exactly what
Vassily is capable of; when Shooter approaches Vassily as a
potential drug trafficker, he knows what Vassily will do if his
deception is discovered. It won't be quick, and it won't be easy.
At the same time, Shooter carries the seeds of his own destruction
within himself. His attraction to young women has led him into a
relationship with a college student who knows who he is, and what
he does --- and who may be working for Vassily.

Shooter is a real, dangerously flawed character who takes the
definition of anti-hero in a new direction. Crow does an excellent
job of surrounding him with supporting characters who are almost
--- almost --- as interesting as he is without stealing the show
away from him. At the same time, it is easy to care about all of
these people, whether they be Shooter's parents, girlfriend, or
buddies, and to wonder what happened to them after the last page of
RED RAIN is read. Crow's knowledge of munitions is excellent as
well --- he gets it right just about every time. Crow also leaves
just enough questions unanswered, and just enough issues
unresolved, to leave the door open for a sequel to RED RAIN.
Readers of RED RAIN will, no doubt, be waiting for the next
shower.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Red Rain
by Michael Crow

  • Publication Date: May 13, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0670030902
  • ISBN-13: 9780670030903