Review: Crashing Blue by Della Boynton

Francisco Cabot is an undercover narc for the police. Having lived his entire life on the underbelly of society, he's the perfect man to infiltrate hardcore gangs, gather bulletproof evidence against them, and make certain their bosses spend a lifetime behind bars. He hides a dark secret, though, that causes him to harbor a ravening hunger for revenge that not even his long list of successes can quench. But a man can only live with revenge and the refuse of humanity for so long, before not even his fantasies of innocents and his ideals are enough to light the growing darkness in his soul.

The last man Cabot expects to save him from that darkness is Christopher Caldwell, the son of the biggest drug king in the city and the man Cabot has been sent to destroy. Falling in love with the enemy was never the plan, but when Christopher begs Cabot to leave everything behind to be with him, Cabot finds himself longing to do just that. His life of violence, gangs, and slums can’t be left behind so easily, though; they'll be lucky to make it out alive.

Note: Crashing Blue was previously self-published under the title, Snow. It has been substantially revised and reedited for this release.

From the first sentence until the last, I reveled in the bleak beauty of Crashing Blue depicting undercover cop Cabot's world steeped in crime and motivated by revenge. The plot is a roller coaster ride in which nothing is ever quite as it seems. Cabot leads us through a dark and dangerous underbelly of poverty and crime just as everything begins to change for him.

Cabot sets his sights on breaking apart criminal gangs from the inside and ultimately bringing their leaders to justice. He has long since given up on a real life for himself assuming a new role and persona with each assignment.

Cabot idolizes the innocence and beauty of Snow, a young man he met briefly at a party. Snow is the prized possession of a wealthy drug dealer. Concerned for Snow's safety Cabot sees no option but to jeopardise his latest mission. The change in plan brings Cabot to the attention of Christopher, the wealthy and disenfranchised son of the drug dealer Cabot is targeting.

Snow has always been an unattainable ideal, but perhaps what Christopher offers is within Cabot's grasp. The stakes are high and betrayal is imminent as Cabot attempts to work out where his loyalty actually lies.

Cabot's gut instinct for survival and his swagger makes this story truly engaging. Nothing in Crashing Blue is predictable and I found myself invested in the outcome, if skeptical about how it might end. The protagonists are deftly drawn and full of contradictions.

What I liked a little less was some of the unforgiving descriptions that tipped over the line of pejorative with a flurry of judgment that left me reeling. Occasionally jarred momentarily out of the story, I accepted that the descriptions give authenticity to Cabot's rather jaded perspective. The romance is fairly minimal and descriptions of the of sexual encounters between Cabot and Christopher are candid (which I put down to circumstance and Cabot's lack of experience at sustaining a relationship rather than a lack of passion).

I recognise that this may not be a story to everyone's taste since the theme is fairly stark and occasionally brutal, but it is a gripping tale nonetheless.

Cabot's analysis of power play and his personal musings on the blur between love, loyalty and betrayal is intense and often darkly amusing.

Recommended for those who like their fiction on the gritty side.

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