‘False Ransom: The First Mike Chance Novel:’ Book Review (Bloody, Brutal, Beautiful Pulp)

“Did you like it?” He asked her.
“Am I supposed to?”
“I don’t know.” Mike said.
“Well, I did like it. I like it fine.”

This bit of dialogue comes from writer Ivan Infante’s new e-book, False Ransom: The First Mike Chance Novel, and takes place between the lead character, conman and bruiser Mike Chance, and the fugitive daughter of a local mob boss immediately after she has shot a man to death . . . an experience that is a first for her. While this smidge of Infante’s story may not seem like much on its own, it perfectly captures the dark tone, moral ambiguity and subtle sexiness of False Ransom, while also conveying the emotional turmoil readers will experience in this tight and suspenseful page turner. At first, it’s an acquired taste, perhaps a little more harsh and cynical than most are used to, but once you get accustomed to the flavor, trust me, you’ll like it. You’ll like it fine.

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

As one may expect, False Ransom: The First Mike Chance Novel follows conman Mike Chance in his first blood-soaked, body-littered tale. Written in the style of classic serialized crime noir serials, False Ransom depicts Mike’s arrival in the City of Angels during the late 1930s. Partnered up with Benny, his long-time brother in the “con scene,” Mike’s brutal and violent nature quickly leads to the darkest corners of the Los Angeles underworld, when he and Benny become entangled with a clever and alluring young girl who just happens to be the daughter of a local crime boss. On the run from her old man and his dark infatuations with her, she’s determined to pull the biggest con of all, and she doesn’t care who she has to bury to do it . . . including Mike and Benny.

False Ransom is a dark, hard-boiled, and blood-drenched novel that is not only influenced by classic crime noir, but actually earns its place in the genre. Infante writes his novel with a Raymond Chandler-esque voice and a bold, ruthless, and unapologetic style. Infante’s lead, Mike Chance, is a cold-hearted, hot-headed bastard for most of the book, almost like a twisted version ofMickey Rourke’s Marv from Sin City, only minus his heart and his soul. Chance is a horrible, misogynistic, and cruel character, but less horrible, misogynistic, and cruel than almost every other character in the book, and this brilliant ability to “not blink” when it comes to the rough stuff is what makes False Ransom feel like a genuine crime noir piece instead of something merely inspired by such pieces. I will advise that False Ransom is a rough read in terms of violence and the dark tone of the material. While fans of hard-boiled crime noir will surely enjoy Infante’s loyalty to the genre, new readers would be wise to brace themselves for the ride.

Infante also has a great sense of space and detail when it comes to the layout and locales of Los Angeles in 1938. Not only does it add a level of realism that is felt by the reader (even more so if you’ve lived in L.A.), but the setting also unavoidably gives the whole story a vague Chinatown vibe.

Finally, I’ve got to give a huge shout out to artist Matt Jacobs' original and restrained cover image. Jacobs' art can also be seen in The Arcs, a graphic novel written by and published by Fanboy Comics (available for purchase at the following link), but his work for False Ransom is so strikingly different that it surprises even someone well accustomed with his work. And, of course, the solitary, blood red color scheme fits the story perfectly.


FINAL VERDICT: For fans of any type of crime noir, from the Hard Case Crime novels to Frank Miller’s Sin City to the recent video game L.A. Noire, purchasing False Ransom: The First Mike Chance Novel is a “no brainer.” And, even if this is your first step into the crime noir world, False Ransom’s bargain price tag of only $3.99 should make your purchase an easy decision.


For more info on False Ransom: The First Mike Chance Novel and author Ivan Infante, visit Infante’s website, www.ivaninfantewrites.com.

If you’d like to nab a copy of False Ransom: The First Mike Chance Novel  and support self-publishers, you can purchase the e-book on your Kindle app, Amazon.com, and GoodReads.com.

Finally, don’t miss writer Ivan Infante’s recent appearance on FBC’s weekly podcast, The Fanboy Scoop: Week in Review. You can listen to or download the episode by clicking here.

Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President
Favorite Comic BookPreacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
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