Storme Front: A Wyatt Storme Thriller, by WL Ripley*****

storme frontStorme Front, the second mystery in the series featuring former NFL player Wyatt Storme and his buddy, Chick Easton, is smart and sassy. Ripley proves that an action-packed thriller with a he-man protagonist is stronger, not weaker when it treats women respectfully, as equals to men. Thank you twice, first to Net Galley, and second to Brash Books. I received this DRC from them in exchange for an honest review. This title was released August 4, so you can get it right away.

When someone offers one a thousand dollars to make a single, simple delivery, it’s natural to be suspicious. But when it appears to also involve pulling a good friend’s cojones out of the fire, an experienced badass will sometimes agree, however cautiously, to tag along. So it is here. Drugs, guns, and bodies pile up, and all through it runs some kick-ass banter that made me laugh out loud a number of times. The exchanges are typically between Wyatt and Chick, but there’s some pretty strong humor, at times, in the interactions between Wyatt and his fiancée, Sandra Collingsworth, as well. As well as respect. I like the respect even better.

“No one likes smart, self-assured women, you know.”
“Except you,” she said. “And I’m glad.”

Complicating the picture without making it into a soap opera is the involvement, however peripherally, of an old flame of Wyatt’s. They split up a long time ago, and she married the man whose afore-mentioned cojones Wyatt is trying to salvage.

“His wife?” said Billy, smiling. “Ain’t she a sweet piece of—“
“Her name’s Kelly,” I said, interrupting. “But you can call her Mrs. Jenkins.”

The action is linear in format, so the fairly sizeable number of characters doesn’t create confusion. Then too, Ripley’s memorable character sketches certainly help:

“Snakeskins came around the truck. He had a big face, crooked nose. About thirty. A little overweight. Too many Coors in cowboy bars. Blond mustache, untrimmed, and a diamond stud in one ear. His hands were immense.”

Oh, there are so many more memorable passages, and I highlighted 78 of them, just for giggles. But the fact is, I would just hate to ruin it all for you. All told, the flavor is a bit like Sue Grafton’s, but with male protagonists in Colorado.

The examples I’ve provided show up early on, but the pace never slows till the last page is turned. In the end, I just wanted to read the next book in the series. And so will you.

Highly recommended for mystery and thriller lovers, or for anyone that needs a snappy, amusing beach read.

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