This review slipped by my notice until yesterday. Connor Rickett tells his views about the good, the bad and the–well, there isn’t really anything ugly in his review, so I’m counting it as a big win. See what you think–click through to read the whole review.
Debra R. Borys is a good writer, and Painted Black keeps the pace up throughout. The characters come across as real, and the at times disturbing reality of the way she portrays the lives of the homeless lend the entire book a visceral feel. She clearly mines her own experiences working with the homeless community to bring the streets to life. The gritty realism that surrounds the protagonists gives them a flavor, and Borys does not seem to feel burdened to tie up every loose end and personal issue in a nice little happy bow. That simple accession to reality is one a lot of writers refuse to make, invested as we are in our characters.
Another item particularly well done was the dialog. Borys must have an ear for it, because it flows naturally, and mimicking the slang of the inner city is something very good writers often mess up painfully.
The villains are certainly intimidating, and, however twisted, far from incompetent most the time. There is nothing that drives a story forward quite like villains suffering from competence and a tendency towards intelligent action. There are some elements that are almost creepy, and some elements that are incredibly successfully creepy. A good villain can make a book, and though I wish they had been given more page time, these guys did their job: They made you think the protagonists were in real danger.