Maddy's Reviews > The Big Boom

The Big Boom by Domenic Stansberry
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's review
May 21, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2007-reads
Read in June, 2007

PROTAGONIST: Dante Mancuso, PI
SETTING: San Francisco (North Beach)
SERIES: #2 of 2

Domenic Stansberry has been acclaimed as a writer of the "new noir" ever since the publication of his first book, THE LAST DAYS OF IL DUCE. He has a unique style which is hard to describe. It's spare but evocative, Chandleresque with a more sardonic point of view. THE BIG BOOM is the second book in the Dante Mancuso series set in San Francisco, and it perfectly captures the Big Boom world of venture capitalists and heated investment opportunities, most of which flame out spectacularly.

Mancuso assists a crusty old private investigator named Cicero and is one of his more prized operatives. Independent, intelligent and intuitive, he rarely fails to complete an assignment. He's obsessive about finding the truth. This case involves a young woman who has gone missing. As it turns out, Dante was involved with Angela Antonelli many years earlier. There are still some ties to his heart, and he cannot reconcile what he knows of her and the manner of her death. Even after Angela's father dismisses the PI agency, Dante continues to investigate. Angela worked for a start-up company that experienced huge success; Dante feels certain that there's a connection between that job and her demise. He becomes even more certain of that when other employees of that firm die under suspicious circumstances. The truth behind Angela's death is quite horrifying, and something that the reader neither expects nor celebrates.

In addition to crafting a well-told and timely tale, Stansberry excels at delineating conflicting worlds that exist side by side, but very different in their principles and values. There are the hustling business types, riding a wave of financial opportunity, coexisting with the solid old denizens of the North Beach neighborhood. There's the feisty Italian woman running a bar where the old timers congregate, the old Italians who were friends with Dante's father or part of the neighborhood power structure from his youth. And then there are the hot shots in their tailored suits and expensive cars.

Fans of hardboiled crime fiction (and I count myself in that category) will find THE BIG BOOM to be a lean and atmospheric book, yet complex and thoughtful at the same time. I'm not sure I'd call it "noir", but that's an argument for another day.


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