Ryan David Jahn - Acts of Violence (4 stars)

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Ryan David Jahn - Acts of Violence

(Macmillan)

Ryan David Jahn’s first novel takes a rusty knife and taps into the same vein that gore fans like Quentin Tarantino or Frank Miller love aiming for. Set on the mean streets of 1960s Queens – which literally run with blood after the real-life rape and murder of Kitty Genovese – Jahn’s violent amorality tale has also drawn well-earned comparisons with Bret Easton Ellis and James Ellroy.

It was Kitty’s neighbours’ reaction – or specifically lack of one – that led psychologists to coin the term ‘the bystander effect’. Although her assault was witnessed by 38 people, no one phoned the police. Jahn’s cinematic thriller chicanes between them while preoccupied with racial prejudice, a Vietnam draft letter and a wife swap gone pear shaped to explain the apathy that sent ripples of unease through US society afterwards. Gripping, and layered with juicy, scathing insights into the relationships and politics of the era, Jahn proves himself as a promising noir talent.

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