“Schism” by Clabe Polk

“Schism” is a crime/action novel, first in the Detective Mike Eiser Series, which seems to be to be directed at the older Young Adult market. While violence and coarse language play their parts, neither reaches the level of obscenity current in harder-edged adult crime novels.

Perhaps this comes from the setting, Poplar Bluffs, which is a small town in rural Georgia, and an opportunity for the Atlanta Raven’s Claws to set up a new crime domain. Fortunately for the citizens of the town, the gang leader sent to lead this foray is a bit of a screw-up, as are his henchmen. Likewise, the citizens of the town and their protectors are less hardened to the realities of organized crime. Thus the conflict stays within reasonable bounds, making it appropriate for younger readers.

Another clue as to the intended audience is a rather straightforward and sometimes predictable plotline, where luck plays a larger part than usual. More sophisticated readers will perhaps find this not up to their expectations. For those who are more forgiving, the story moves along quickly and smoothly, with sufficient twists to keep us interested.

I should comment on the dialect spoken by many of the characters. While I do not doubt the veracity of the portrayal, I found it rather heavy to wade through. It is usual in stories with a heavy dialect in the dialogue to bring it on strong at the beginning, but once it is established, to back off, making it easier for readers to understand what is going on without slowing down or even re-reading at times.

I enjoyed the characters in this story, those on both sides of the law, and found it refreshing that the young potential gang members were not stereotyped black slum dwellers. A few of the minor characters are pretty much stock items in these stories (one father just happens to be an ex-Navy SEAL), but they act in normal, believable ways, so their presence does not offend us.

Another plus is the ending, which does not fall into the tempting trap of leaving threads untied to force us to buy the next book in the series. This is a true stand-alone novel.

A rousting action/police drama for 14 years plus. Looking forward to the next instalment

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)





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