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Sirk TV Book Review: TEAR IT DOWN [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]

Characters that go looking for trouble usually find it even it is the ones they love sending them to the slaughter. Peter Ash seems to have it all from a beautiful girlfriend with a no-nonsense way about her to an idyllic home in the Pacific Northwest. But he can’t sit still. In “Tear It Down” [Nick Petrie/G.P. Putnam’s Sons/384pgs], Ash is drawn (or sent as it would be) to Memphis to help his girl’s old friend Wanda, a former war photographer, out of a mess. What follows is Peter being dragged into the underworld of Memphis with aplomb though to be fair many of the characters’ motivation are narratively sound despite being slightly out of whack. Ash as a character is cool and collected much like an old school John McClane or Jack Reacher. The potential, especially with how he functions, defies reality in most instances but there is something undeniably charming about his approach with an almost altruistic bent hiding a dark war past. Even his closest friends is criminal in the old school Dillinger mode who is always there for them. Ash tries to paint a perfect anti-hero world even if it is really not. The bad guys from a smart kid who ends up on a dark path to a ex con who has filed his teeth into sharp tips with a full Blu face tattoo have their own gripes even though they seems to follow a path that will extricably lead to their deaths. The sequences keep getting bigger until the carnage almost becomes too significant to suspend disbelief. Even though it is entertaining at times despite the body count, the interesting approach is that many of the characters on both sides are thinking, even in the moment, about the body count despite the amount of ammunition being volleyed back and forth. It is an odd paradox at times. Ultimately the resolution makes sense but the carnage overwhelming for a progression of this specific pace. It is brewing and brewing but then it seemingly goes off the rails in the final instance of the 3rd act. The balance is not kept but it is fun to watch these cowboys run blazing into gangland like it was the Wild West making allies, enemies and sometimes reluctant colleagues along the way.


By Tim Wassberg

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