Review: OUT OF EXILE by Luke Preston

Out of ExileOUT OF EXILE follows Tom Bishop a damaged and dangerous ex-cop with the result simply noir – blurred justice, violence, and a case for vengeance tripping over the borders of criminality. Dig deeper, and the deluge of damned souls and corrupt cops seeps deep into the cracked Melbourne pavement. The reality not distilled by the outrageous but supported by the outlandish – this level of rife corruption and blatant disregard for civilian safety could easily happen, a factious tag-line from the Herlard or Australian. And that’s what makes OUT OF EXILE so good.

Broken out of prison, Bishop finds himself embroiled in a multi-layered crime of smoke and mirrors where the true purpose of the corrupt elite isn’t clear until the bloody ending. Raw from the loss of his daughter, Bishop’s justice radar still learns towards the blue line – this despite being involved in a kidnapping, break-in of his former foe’s house and torture of a prominent cops’ wife. While things look bad for Bishop’s predicament, his relentless pursuit of justice enforced by street law provides a constant glimmer of hope where none should filter.

OUT OF EXILE builds upon the Aussie conceptual noir, DARK CITY BLUE, the first book to feature Tom Bishop. The key players return (those not six feet under) with more character depth and the reader, more situational awareness of the fictitious Victorian police landscape. Familiarity with the characters is paramount to the reader reactions to their decisions and actions. While I think anyone could read OUT OF EXILE as a standalone, it works much better having read DARK CITY BLUE.

Author Luke Preston does a great job at keeping the reader guessing while planting landmines of explosive twists throughout the course of events. Like its predecessor, OUT OF EXILE is action an action pack non-stop noir where no one is safe from the tantalising grip of corruption and promised wealth.

Be sure to check out my main blog (link below) for an upcoming post where I interview Luke Preston!

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– This review also appears on Just A Guy That Likes To Read

Review: DARK CITY BLUE, Luke Preston

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 313 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Momentum (November 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009DF1IBI

Synopsis (Amazon)

If there’s one thing worse than a crooked cop on your heels then it’s a whole unit of them.

A fistful of people are murdered, fifteen million dollars is stolen and
detective Tom Bishop is stuck in the middle. When he hits the street,
every clue points in the same direction – his colleagues in a police
department demoralised by cutbacks and scandals. Hunted, alone and with
no place left to turn, Bishop embarks on a hellish journey down into the
gutters where right and wrong quickly become twisted and problems are
solved with gunfire and bloodshed.

Over the next two days, Tom
Bishop will be cornered. He will be beaten. He will bust into prison. He
will shoot at police. He will team up with violent criminals. He will
become one of them. He will break every rule in the book, chasing a lead
nobody else will go near down a rabbit hole of corruption, murder and
buried secrets.

Will Bishop become the very monster he set out to destroy?

A modern hard-boiled tale that unfolds at a relentless pace, Dark City Blue is Serpico, if Serpico snorted a fistful of cocaine and hung out with Lee Marvin.

My Take

Forty year old Tom Bishop is a rare beast in VPD (The Victoria Police Department) – he is an honest cop. But honesty has come at a price.

    Patterson leant back in his chair. Picked up Bishop’s personnel file. It was three inches thick.
    ‘I read this and I see two things. I see a career detective who’s brought down some heavy hitters. Benny Eastwell, Rob Black – Jesus, you hunted Terry Vass halfway across the country and copped two bullets in the back for your trouble, and you still brought him in.
    I look at this and see a hero cop with more commendations than twenty cops put together.
    Then I read between the lines and do you know what else I see?’ Bishop shook his head.
     ‘I see bruised suspects and others in body bags. I see corners cut and laws bent—’
    ‘I never broke the law.’
    ‘You’ve skimmed the edges of it. The question I ask myself is, who is the real Tom Bishop?
    The hero cop on these pages or the violent man hidden between the lines?’
    He put the lid on his pen and the pen in his pocket.

The VPD plays host to a network of corrupt police, from the top to the bottom. The head of this network is called Justice, his identity unknown, although his minions in the police force are more obvious.  When the takings from Melbourne’s Casino are hijacked, and an innocent sex worker is killed in cold blood, Tom Bishop decides to hunt the villains even if it means he has to work on his own. And worse than working on his own is not knowing who his enemies are.

The author raises an interesting issue in asking whether Tom Bishop, who leaves behind him a trail of death and destruction, is any better than those he is hunting down.

DARK CITY BLUE is very topical for Australian readers. Investigations into police corruption and connections between the police and organised crime have received considerable publicity both in investigative journalism and television semi-fiction.

Most readers will find the violence in DARK CITY BLUE confronting, and I think there were a few issues with the jigsawed time frame the author uses. But there can be no doubt that Luke Preston is a writer to watch, this being his debut novel.

My rating: 4.4

Other reviews to check

Review: DARK CITY BLUE by Luke Preston

Dark City Blue by Luke Preston‘Justice’ is more an idea than concept or purpose for policing. It’s a universal term coined to facilitate the dispensing of action through lawful conduct on those who are in breach of maintaining public order. DARK CITY BLUE squashes the safety blanket-like public and policing perception by using this as a means of defining a central corrupt body of lawmakers and turning them into first class criminals. Protagonist, Bishop, a hard-man who’s shed more blood than tears is an honest cop in a world where disloyalty is rewarded. Not the type to turn a blind eye, he embarks on a one man mission to bring down a deeply entrenched seed of criminal activity right in the backyard of the boys in the blue.

Preston wastes no time in thrusting the reader face first into the action. From the opening scene Bishop is confronted with the underage sex trade, shotguns, and dead bodies. The high octane, noir on no-doze feel to DARK CITY BLUE doesn’t let up with Bishop piecing the broken bits of a blood encrusted puzzle one shard at a time over the course of a number of violent encounters with the law and lawless alike.

Bishop’s motive is fuelled by rage, derived through the clouded eyes of a dying, abused child, in Chloe. A captive against her will serving as no more than a means to fatten the pockets of the elusive entity known as ‘Justice’. As the body bag is zipped up, darkening the youthful body within, so does Bishops mood and determination. Throughout the course of the novel, moments exist where Bishop could walk, turn to IA, or act alone as a vigilante – luckily for the reader; he decides to go at it alone. Following the deathly whispers of ‘Justice’, Bishop learns of police involvement in a heist worth 15mil and other heinous crimes that threaten to tear apart the already thin fabric that holds the police department together.

Fellow officers, judges, commanders, criminals, snitches, undercover agents, and best friends all come scrutiny as Bishop kicks tail and takes names on the path to the truth. DARK CITY BLUE is delivered in a frenetic pace, while this had the potential to overshadow the novels protagonist, Preston still manages to establish a deep and painful back-story amongst the bullets and blood. It’s easy to see how Bishop can evolve into a serious series character. One can’t help but think the complexity of his character unearthed in DARK CITY BLUE is but the tip of the iceberg.

This is one shot of oz noir adrenaline not to be missed – 4 stars.

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