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Review of With Strings Attached by Frank Haggerty

See full issue for 2016 05-09
by Candi Sary

The Rundown

In Frank Haggerty’s With Strings Attached, Stumpy is a former prizefighting trainer trying to make a living running a bar in New Jersey when a mobster from his past comes back into his life. The mobster, Malone, is looking for a favor. Felix “The Cat” Rodriguez is fresh out of jail and needs to get ready for a big fight. Malone wants Stumpy to oversee his training. Stumpy wants to stay well away from prizefighting, a world that has haunted him since he left it, but finds it hard to say no to a deal that could help his family significantly. With a cast of gritty characters by his side to corrupt and enliven his journey, Stumpy decides to make a comeback into the seedy business he thought he’d left for good.

The novel brings Stumpy’s harsh corner of the world to life quite successfully. The dialogue is raw and real and you can practically hear the characters’ accents. Haggerty pulls out a front row seat into the boxing world, complete with mobsters and thugs and guys just trying to get by on the streets of New Jersey. The scenes are described with such detail, you feel like you’re there. Haggerty clearly loves language and takes his time to make an impression with each moment. The storyline, though it unfolds slowly, does come to a surprising and satisfying ending.

While Haggerty has talent, the novel carries unnecessary detail that tends to weight it down. The overwriting makes it difficult at times to stay immersed in the story. Readers may feel they are pulled away from the experience with unneeded details and a few too many clever analogies. Though it may be difficult for an author to abandon such nicely crafted sentences, the story would have more room to breathe if Haggerty had trimmed some of the excess.

The Recommendation

With Strings Attached is for readers interested in a crime novel with likable characters, vivid descriptions and a close look at the underworld. Though a bit slow-paced with its detailed writing, there are still plenty of reasons to enjoy this street-smart, Jersey novel.

The Rating Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

4 Stars (out of 5): Recommended. For the right audience, this book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Believable, Characterization, Dialogue
Cons: Slow in Places, Wordy

The Links

More about With Strings Attached on UBR

The Reviewer

Candi Sary

Candi Sary is the author of Black Crow White Lie, a shortlist finalist in the William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition and semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Sary lives in coastal Southern California with her husband and three dogs now that her kids are grown. She can often be found surfing and paddle boarding in the waters of Newport Beach.

Visit Candi Sary‘s website.

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