Matt Caine is going through some hard times. His wife died in a tragic accident, he’s been unemployed for months and the only way he was able to hold onto his house was by borrowing from some shady-as-hell characters. On top of all that stress the guy’s parents-in-law are trying to get custody of his daughter, the only thing in his life that matters to him. So when his junkie friend Jay comes to him with a sketchy plan to kidnap the wife of a local philanthropist for a half million dollar ransom, Caine has seemingly little choice but to go along with it. After all, there’s no way he’s gonna be able to pay off the mob with the wages he gets from day labor gigs. But after they snatch the woman outside of the salon she goes to regularly, things go to shit toot-fucking-sweet.
As we’ve come to expect of John Rector’s work, Out of the Black is about as tightly written as thrillers get. The novel starts with that very noir, “regular guy who gets in too deep” premise and then never stops moving from there on out. There’s a solid body count, plenty of twists and turns, and never any dull moment that’ll get your eyes to skimming something sloppy. I mean, tightness is something that we all like to marvel at in a writer’s work but Rector is on a whole new plane with this fucker, just not a wasted word or unnecessary line of dialogue or piece description in the whole damn novel.
But despite all this economy, we are never short-changed when it comes to character. Matt Caine’s pain over losing his wife and fear of failing his daughter is at the front of our minds throughout Out of the Black, making for a thriller that is intensely human and filled with genuinely emotional moments. So if you’re game for a thriller that’s leaner than John Hurt and might just make you squirt a few like you’re too close to the bonfire (because swear you never cry, dammit!), Out of the Black is the novel for you, dear reader.