Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review Tour for The Black Song Inside by Carlyle Clark

The Black Song Inside
By Carlyle Clark

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: September 18, 2013
Genre:  Suspense
Length: 426 Pages
ISBN: 978-1477849163

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About the book:

Atticus Wynn and Rosemary Sanchez, newly engaged private investigators, have seen the dark and violent side of life. Nothing, though, has prepared them for an explosive murder investigation that threatens to tear their relationship apart as they struggle to solve a case that could leave them in prison or dead.

Atticus’s manipulative ex-girlfriend bursts back into their lives wielding a secret about Rosemary’s family that she exploits to force the couple into investigating the execution-style slaying of her lover. The case thrusts Atticus and Rosemary headlong into the world of human trafficking and drug smuggling, while rendering them pawns in Tijuana Cartel captain Armando Villanueva’s bloody bid to take over the cartel.

The Black Song Inside is a vivid crime thriller rife with murder and madness, melded with gallows humor and the heroism of two flawed and compelling protagonists who, if they can save themselves, may learn the nature of redemption and the ability to forgive.

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BARTOLO AGUILAR SQUATTED beside a rutted dirt road in the Anza-Borrego Desert, two hours east of San Diego, and savored the emotional and spiritual insanity of the woman who was watching the dying girl spasming in the sand, gurgling and frothing, her bloodshot eyes rolled up in her head so that they looked like a pair of crimson moons.

Bartolo favored dawn in the desert for these birthings. Dusk would work, but there was nothing like the biting crispness of daybreak, the dark sky marbled with orange light, the desert awash in the smoldering winds sweeping off the mountains--like amniotic fluid, bathing all three of them in the warm righteousness of the womb: the unknowing convert, the sacrifice, and of course himself, the man of God.

That this dying birthing had been not the result of careful choice on his part, but rather a fortuitous order from his current employer, Armando Villanueva, made it no less sacred. The Tijuana Cartel captain hadn’t ordered the birthing nor was he aware of Bartolo’s faith; Villanueva just wanted a problem to disappear. He would be furious to discover Bartolo, on divine impulse alone, had brought the woman to witness. Villanueva didn’t understand that the will of the Lord came before worldly duties.

Bartolo had founded his own religion according to three words on an aged and scorched parchment he had carried every day since discovering it squirreled away in an ancient hut next to a jungle-shrouded temple, just before he and his comrades roped the shack’s occupant, a wizened shaman, to his cot and set the hut ablaze. Now, decades later, Bartolo Aguilar was the sole surviving member and self-anointed High Priest of the Church of the Aloned, and it was baptism time.

The dying girl was nothing as a person but everything as a sacrifice, a vessel whose perfect suffering could draw into the light that which hunkered in the shadows of the woman’s soul, of everyone’s soul. The girl wasn’t even worthy of being a floor scrubber in his congregation. She was just another throwaway who’d fooled herself into thinking that a high school dropout, who couldn’t even handle the pressures of the fast-food industry, could earn the respect of drug cartels by allowing herself to be exploited in perhaps the world’s highest-risk, lowest-reward job: drug mule “swallower”.

Her belly held twenty condoms filled with highest-grade heroin. Had she made it to the drop, they’d have given her laxatives and waited until she shit out fifty thousand dollars worth of product, and then paid her only five hundred. But one of those condoms had ruptured. Maybe her stomach acid had eaten through it. Maybe the guy who filled the condoms had been tripping on his own product and fucked up. Didn’t matter. Not to Bartolo. Not to the guy who loaded the condoms. Not to the man who ran the whole thing. Not even to the girl--now.

So the girl didn’t count. Was she Aloned? Certainly, but she had started near the bottom. Died at the bottom. A little tumble like that didn’t warrant membership. To sit in the pews in the Church of the Aloned, you must have tasted the dizzying heights of the exalted, been respected and admired, yet have cast it all away for the basest of reasons, which were, as far as Bartolo was concerned, the hidden truths of everything. Hidden that is, until Bartolo came striding into your life, clutched the nape of your neck, and forced you to stare long and deep into the mirror to see what you could do. Would do. Will do. Are doing. Have done.

The woman was in that most precarious of moments. She was doing nothing to help the girl. That the girl couldn’t be helped was both the least and most critical element.

“She’s dying,” the woman said again, her hands tucked under her armpits as if she were cold despite the ninety-degree desert morning, her feet shifting as if she had to urinate.

“A cock-sized hit of heroin will do that to you,” he said, his voice quiet but ragged, like the sound of saw cutting bone behind a closed door. He stood up, wiped his wet and grimy face with a black-and-white checkered bandanna, and adjusted his sweat-darkened cowboy hat.

“I only came with you because you said there was a way to help her. So what do we do? Why not take her to a hospital. We have to do something.”

“She’s got enough pure H in her now to kill a fucking rhino. There’s a drug you could give her that might counteract that, but I don’t have any. There’s nothing to do but wait until she dies, and then we cut the rest of the product out of her belly.”

“You don’t know that. You’re not a doctor.”
“You can always call 911.” He stepped back and leaned against his white pickup, thick arms crossed over his barrel chest, the old truck creaking with his added bulk.


Carlyle Clark was raised in Poway, a city just north of San Diego, but is now a proud Chicagolander working in the field of Corporate Security and writing crime and fantasy fiction. He has flailed ineffectually at performing the writer's requisite myriad of random jobs: pizza deliverer, curb address painter, sweatshop laborer, day laborer, night laborer, security guard, campus police, Gallup pollster, medical courier, vehicle procurer, and signature-for-petitions-getter.

He is a married man with two cats and a dog. He is also a martial arts enthusiast and a CrossFit endurer who enjoys fishing, sports, movies, TV series with continuing storylines, and of course, reading. Most inconsequentially, he holds the unrecognized distinction of being one of the few people in the world who have been paid to watch concrete dry in the dark. Tragically, that is a true statement.

Website: Forthcoming

My Review

A dark mystery reminding us about the base nature of man, The Black Song Inside by Carlyle Clark is not for the faint of heart.  Well developed multicultural characters, an engaging mystery and plenty of emotional angst kept me turning the pages to discover what was going to happen next.  Filled with frank and occasionally disturbing language, and the occasional racial slur, Mr. Clark’s story is not one I’ll soon forget.

Engaged to be married, private investigators Atticus Wynn and Rosemary Sanchez agree to investigate a “gangland” style murder and end up in the middle of a drug war in San Diego.  While working their case, they uncover ties between the Tijuana Cartel and a man known only as “The Priest”.  As they dig further into the case, Atticus and Rosemary will have to decide just how dedicated they are to uncovering the truth.

Mr. Carlyle does a good job developing both Atticus and Rosemary’s characters.  An African-American male who grew up in abject poverty, Atticus is forced to deal with racial bigotry and a police department determined to frame him for something.  Meanwhile, Rosemary, a Hispanic woman who grew up in the midst of a severely dysfunctional family, is dealing with the loss of her leg from her service in the Army and a pretty bad case of PTSD.  While their romance is not center stage (this is a mystery and not a romance), it’s clear to see they are good for each other and that being together is the only real “light” in their lives.

The secondary characters, and the villains, are well developed and contribute a lot to the story.  Next to Atticus and Rosemary, the best developed character is “The Priest”; a strange, twisted man who believes he is the messenger of God and whose interference in their case really complicates matters.  Especially since he’s got an agenda of his own which puts him in direct conflict with Atticus.

Will Rosemary and Atticus physically survive their investigation and the drug war they find themselves involved in?  Will their relationship survive all of the secrets they uncover about each other during their investigation?  You’ll have to read The Dark Song Inside to find out.  It’s a good story and I look forward to seeing what Mr. Clark writes next.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 Crowns

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tour Schedule

11/15 Review T B R 
11/18 Review Room With Books
11/19 Review Books, Books, and More Books 
11/21 Review deal sharing aunt
11/26 Review The Insane Ramblings of a Crazed Writer 
12/5 Review Mommasez...
12/6 Review Pure Jonel 
12/12 Review Queen of All She Reads
12/12 Review Little Red's Book Reviews
12/13 Review Shah Wharton's WordsinSync
12/13 Review Harlie's Books
Amazon Review WilDersh
Amazon Review Grandbub
Amazon UK  Review nholten40
Amazon Review B Farrell

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