I will be the first to admit that one could question my ability to be objective about a book put out by All Due Respect Books. I mean, come on…look back to the way I raved about them in my Best of 2014 section. Check out how I fawned over them in my last review of All Due Respect 5. I am a shill for ADR, right? Well…not really…I just recognize greatness in the present and have the ability to acknowledge the birth of a future giant in the noir publishing world as they are just getting rolling. Does that make me unique? Just read all the other great reviews they are collecting and you will see that I am merely one of the many who are jumping on the ADR bandwagon before it gains so much speed it leaves me choking on fumes.
Uncle Dust by Rob Pierce is a future noir classic. The character just oozes realism and is the epitome of the 21st century noir character. Dusty is a man who can never seem to win, but he is in touch with his emotions and recognizes his failings and does try to do the right thing in certain situations.
Dusty is a bank robber who just seems to be biding time between jobs as he spends his day playing family man to a girlfriend and her son, Jeremy. But his interactions with Jeremy are the ones that trouble him the most. He has a desire to do right by the boy, from teaching him to defend himself against bullies, to defending him against the dangers that his mother’s former boyfriend may or may not actually present. He is deeply troubled because as a bank robber, he can have no roots. But as a man learning to love having a hand in raising Jeremy, he knows he needs to be grounded in a life in which his presence can be counted on. Jeremy recognizes this conflict in Dustin’s reality and his desire to change and he asks Dustin, “You don’t do anything forever, do you?” “Some kids in school have dads and the dads stay forever. It’s like there’s forever people and there’s people like us.” Strong indication of a character that wants to live in a fairy tale world, but lives in the noir world I love to read about. All Dustin can say to reconcile the differences between these two worlds is “Sometimes it makes sense to leave.”
I loved the way Pierce uses his words to paint the picture of Dusty’s internal struggles of how he sees the world and himself. “It worried me. I didn’t know why a woman like Theresa would have to settle. The competition must have been bigger a**holes than me”. The self-reflection that Dusty possesses throughout the story really made this one great read.
As Dusty battles his own demons and tries to come to grips with who he is, both for himself and for his future with a woman and boy he is learning to love, Pierce consistently shows us how Dusty is destined to lose. No matter how much he aches to become more than who he is, in the end he knows “I’d spent my whole life becoming someone you didn’t want to f**k with, it was hard to change that look now”. If noir is a character that destiny has pegged as a bottom dweller, I submit to you, Dusty, a noir character that may be on the bottom in many ways, but has helped lift this novel to the top.
Strong plot, strong characters, and another strong offering by ADR books. Grab a copy ASAP!