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Some Die Nameless


Some Die Nameless

SOME DIE NAMELESS almost got past me. I have been a fan of Wallace Stroby’s gritty crime fiction from day one, going back to the wonderfully titled THE BARBED-WIRE KISS and THE HEARTBREAK LOUNGE, all the way up to THE DEVIL’S SHARE from a few years ago. However, for some reason I was under the impression that his latest novel was a military or espionage-type thriller, and I thought to myself Say it ain’t so! Well, it ain’t.

There are some mercenary elements here, but they take place momentarily and in the story’s past, motivating and driving the significant problems that play out on the city streets of New Jersey (among other varied places) in the novel’s present. Oh, and along the way, Stroby gives us his best book to date, nicely balanced between the thriller triplets --- explosions, fisticuffs and suspense --- and crackling, real-world dialogue. So what’s to love? Everything, indeed.

"Stroby gives us his best book to date, nicely balanced between the thriller triplets --- explosions, fisticuffs and suspense --- and crackling, real-world dialogue."

SOME DIE NAMELESS begins placidly enough --- for a couple of pages, anyway --- while it introduces Ray Devlin, a middle-aged pensioner who is living the quiet life, hiding in plain sight on a low-profile boat docked in a South Florida marina. Devlin is pleasantly surprised but wary when he receives a visit from a former colleague from his soldier-for-hire days. This individual brings a bucketload of trouble with him, and it’s enough to make Devlin leave Florida and return to his old stomping grounds in New Jersey, following a trail that leads to another dead body, a mass shooting in a low-rent bar, and a further indication that his life is in danger.

The problem, as Devlin quickly discovers, is rooted in his past, when he was part of a paramilitary operation that deposed one South American tinhorn dictator but wound up installing another who was --- and is --- just as bad. The defense contracting firm that bought up Devlin’s old operation seems to want to erase any evidence of what took place a quarter-century ago, and is confident enough in its ability to stay hidden that it’s not too concerned about the series of seemingly unconnected deaths that are being left in the wake of the cover-up.

Devlin may be older, but he is no one’s clay pigeon. And in between dodging bullets, he contacts Tracy Quinn, an investigative reporter on the verge of losing her job with a newspaper on the verge of losing its customer base. Quinn’s investigation into the bar shooting attracts his attention, and the two form a somewhat edgy and uneasy alliance as they attempt to get at the truth from different directions. The primary result is that both of them --- as well as Devlin’s estranged family --- are put in mortal danger, so Devlin has to make some gutsy decisions while moving up the food chain to keep himself and others safe. He may have been out of the game for a while, but as the people hunting him quickly learn, it’s never a smart thing to tick off an old guy, particularly one with much to protect but little to lose.

My understanding is that SOME DIE NAMELESS is a stand-alone work, and its ending supports that conclusion. But the characters --- the ones who make it to the end --- are good and sharp enough that if Stroby decided to bring them back for another round, I would be first in line to welcome them back. Regardless, I suggest you read this book. You’ll be amazed.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 20, 2018

Some Die Nameless
by Wallace Stroby

  • Publication Date: July 10, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316440205
  • ISBN-13: 9780316440202