Necessary Deeds
December 29, 2023

Book Review

Necessary Deeds

reviewed by Warner Holme

Mark Wish’s Necessary Deeds is a standout modern-day noir that skillfully intertwines with the New York publishing world, bringing a refreshing twist to the genre. The novel immerses readers in a dark and intricate narrative from the outset.

The story revolves around Matt Connell, a former literary agent whose life takes a tumultuous turn. As the novel opens, Matt finds himself in Sing Sing prison, struggling to prove his trustworthiness and good behavior in hopes of early release. His incarceration stems from a tragic and impulsive act: within half an hour of discovering his wife’s infidelity, Matt kills her lover.

This gripping introduction sets the stage for Matt’s journey toward potential freedom. He seeks to earn his release by using his knowledge of the publishing world to assist the FBI in their investigation of a former client suspected of being a serial killer. This quest for liberation exposes Matt to new dangers and complexities.

The protagonist’s likability hinges less on his backstory, where jealousy and murder intertwine, and more on his current predicament. Matt, desperate to escape his grim reality, sees a perilous path as his only option for a better life. His journey brings him back into contact with his ex-wife and her new husband, adding layers of drama to the narrative, along with a new romantic interest who has her own troubled past. Even one of Matt’s FBI handlers is shrouded in secrets and literary intrigue, contributing to a richly drawn cast of characters in this concise novel.

Set in the literary world, Necessary Deeds distinguishes itself with its dark, gritty noir atmosphere, a rarity in this setting. The story captures the compelling tale of a man who has already ruined his life and now sees a dangerous opportunity as his best chance for redemption.

The book teases the possibility of a shared universe or series in the future, an intriguing prospect, though not essential to the enjoyment of this tightly woven, short narrative.

Necessary Deeds is an ideal pick for those seeking a unique spin on the noir genre or anyone interested in darker mysteries set within the literary world. At around two hundred pages, it’s a brisk read by current thriller standards, offering an intense and satisfying experience for readers who enjoy a swift, impactful story.

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