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Posted: February 16, 2020

Easton’s story remains a grey zone

Book Review

By Derryll White

Easton, Don (2019).  The Grey Zone.

This is Don Easton’s thirteenth Jack Taggart mystery. It is a little tough to surrender totally to this story.  Easton gives so much away so fast to the new recruit – conspiracy to commit murder, informants’ names – that the critical reader may have some credibility issues raised with the author.

The story does move along well, however, through a landscape familiar to B.C., residents, moving from the Downtown East Side to Surrey and Langley. Easton dwells at length on outlaw motorcycle clubs and internecine struggles. He also investigates the drug trade on the west coast. The primary focus of the story remains the RCMP Undercover Unit and the steps that sometimes have to be taken to break into tight crime networks.

The story itself remains in the grey zone. It never quite comes together either as a mystery or a narrative. It lacks the depth of character development a reader might expect, instead deflecting into departmental politics and personal feuds. This is my second, and I believe my last, Don Easton novel.

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Excerpts from the novel:

COP THOUGHTS – “Don’t be so cynical,” Laura responded.  “I spoke to a VPD detective who was involved.  He said a psychiatrist testified on their behalf that the young men were suffering from PTSD due to violent home lives caused by their fathers when they lived in Jamaica.  Both apparently moved to Canada ten years ago with their mothers to get away from their fathers.  The shrink said that given proper therapy and a chance, Llanzo and Tarone could become respected members of society.  Hence they each received a three-year sentence for that charge.”  [kicking a man to death]

“Now I’m embarrassed I was so cynical,” Jack replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.  “Where’s my compassion?”

‘Probably in your holster,” Laura replied.

DRUG DEALERS – “By the way, nice watch,” Tarone said.  “What ya do?”

“I, uh, invest in different commodities”

Llanzo and Tarone looked at each other and grinned.

“What’s so funny?” Barry said.

“That’s what we do, too,” Llanzo replied.  He eyed Barry said.

“That’s what we do, too,” Llanzo replied.  He eyed Barry.  “White or green?”

“White,” Barry replied.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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