Bullets Before Dawn

Murder in Chinatown

Fiction - Crime
413 Pages
Reviewed on 08/22/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Bullets Before Dawn: Murder in Chinatown featuring Homicide Detective Johnny Vero by Fred Berri is set in 1949, following WW2. It's a crime novel that features human and drug trafficking and murder, with compelling characters and an indefatigable detective. Chinatown is heading for catastrophe as a crime boss runs women and opium smuggled in from China. It's a world of sleaze where anyone can be a criminal. Follow Detective Vero and the newly elected District Attorney as they work their way through a complex network of crime on a path filled with danger to solve a murder that gets more complicated with each passing moment.

The novel features a cast of compelling characters like Griff, the freight ship captain, Alvise LaPoshio, Molly Penett and a cast of others. In a style similar to James Patterson's, the author crafts chapters that are short, each ending with a puzzle or a cliffhanger that urges the reader to turn to the next page, hungry for an answer or looking for the next exciting event. There is an intense romance developing between two key characters against the backdrop of a crime-ridden setting. The characters are well developed and each has depth and humanity. The author explores themes of murder and human trafficking with a lot of realism, crafting scenes that are cinematic and plunging readers into the mindscapes of the characters. The prose is crisp and punctuated by exciting dialogues. I enjoyed the short sentence structure and the author's ability to paint pictures in the minds of readers and to awaken strong emotions in them. There is both suspense and humor to spice up the writing. This is a fast-paced, intriguing thriller that keeps the reader reading through the night.

K.C. Finn

Bullets Before Dawn: Murder In Chinatown is a work of crime fiction penned by author Fred Berri, featuring central character Detective Johnny Vero. Following the events of the first book featuring Vero, Ten Cents a Dance, we now find ourselves in 1949 when the world’s largest war has come to an end. Now promoted to Lieutenant, Johnny Vero finds his next case in NYC’s Chinatown, where drugs and women are being freighted in to be used as commodities. As murders mount up in the Chinatown area, Johnny makes new friends and enemies as he delves into the mystery, including undercover detectives, a feisty D.A. and the FBI.

Author Fred Berri has done some excellent detective work of his own to research and portray such a lively year in the history of New York City. Each page comes alive with the spirit of the forties, from the grimy streets and shady criminals to the polished offices of the higher ups. Written for adults due to explicit violence, sexual content and language, this isn’t a tale which shies away from the reality and brutality of the crimes taking place, but it’s also about the real experiences of Johnny, Molly and the rest as their lives become embroiled in this new criminal threat. Equally strong on plot and character development, the mystery itself shoots along with short, compelling chapters that keep you wanting to read more. Overall, Bullets Before Dawn: Murder In Chinatown is an excellent read for fans of murder mysteries and crime fiction alike.

Rabia Tanveer

The year is 1949 and the war is over for the world. However, things are not improving, especially for Homicide Detective Johnny Vero. After his capture of the serial killer Jean-Paul Vincent, Johnny was promoted to Lieutenant and soon he found love in NYC’s District Attorney Molly Penett. Just when he thought his life was getting better, things went downhill. Something is happening in Chinatown and it is happening far too quickly. People are being murdered and it seems as if Chinatown’s boss Mo China is behind it all. The bodies are turning up faster than before and it is up to Johnny to find the person or persons behind it quickly.

Bullets Before Dawn: Murder in Chinatown by Fred Berri consists of short chapters and a smooth flow that kept me riveted and wanting more. From the very first chapter, I was invested in Johnny Vero’s story and his character. I wanted to know more about him and the author gave it to me. Fred Berri has a gift of storytelling, one that transports the reader into the story and makes them live the thrill and the action along with the characters. I felt as if I was standing next to Johnny Vero. I could see what he was seeing and feel his desperation. The flow was fast, the narrative was smooth and the descriptions were very vivid. Needless to say, I loved reading this novel in a single go. Even though my eyes were a little dry and tired the next morning, I regretted nothing! Fast-paced and very entertaining.