Dead End Street

Young Adult - Thriller
218 Pages
Reviewed on 07/26/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Dead End Street is a coming of age thriller for young and new adult readers, written by R.L. Herron. It is a continuation of the saga which began with his novel, Reichold Street, which followed the lives and fortunes of a group of friends who grew up in a working-class neighborhood during the Vietnam War years. The war affected them all in profound ways, whether they had actually served or not, and Paul Barrett was no exception. He had served and the experience was indeed a life-changing one and would continue to be so. While some sought to denigrate his Vietnam service on the basis that he had actually enlisted rather than waiting to be drafted, Paul’s life had been molten and reforged through that jungle conflict -- most recently through the death of his wife caused by an unstable wartime friend. Paul was a successful thriller writer now. His books were in demand, and he owned a large home in a trendy area of Southern California, but his life had lost all of its appeal since Blake Thompson had killed Carrie. He had left the dead end street that was Reichold Street many years before and was a success, but even the lofty trappings of his California address had turned into a dead end as well. But there were other forces at work threatening the lives of Paul, Randy, Donnie and Janice, even more deadly ones.

R.L. Herron’s coming of age thriller for young and new adult readers, Dead End Street, is a poignant and moving look at the Reichold Street friends whose lives would be forever changed by the Vietnam War. Herron’s characters are complex and complicated, and it’s hard not to share in Paul’s psychic trauma which is heightened by the sudden violence that happens during Janice and Randy’s wedding reception back in Brickdale. Dead End Street is introspective and moody at times, echoing Paul’s mental state, and the growing disparity between his professional success and his happiness. This well-written tale is a stirring continuation of the family saga begun in Reichold Street, and it’s most highly recommended.

Lex Allen

Dead End Street, R.L. Herron’s fourth book in the series that began with Reichold Street, is a slow burning, character driven thriller that relies heavily on several disparate characters and their points of view to move the story through to a satisfying conclusion, sans cliff-hanger but leaving potential for a fifth novel in the series. Lead character Paul Barrett is a successful author battling guilt, sorrow and depression following the death of his wife, Carrie, in an auto accident. He’s on the road to recovery, but life throws more dangerous and life-threatening curves at him, his agent, and his lifelong friends from Reichold Street.

I have read none of the previous novels in the series so getting into the story took time. Herron’s writing style, while exceptional in structure and presentation, left me confused at the allusions to past events and characters of which I had no inkling. Still, his great talent in portraying the characters, their dialogue, and interaction with each other, though miles apart, coupled with specific events that tied the past to the present, kept me glued to my reader, clicking the pages. Introducing the stories, antagonists brought a definitive “aha” moment that doubled the pleasure of the read while increasing the pace of the story. My favorite character was Barrett’s agent, Roger Craig. He’s smart, compassionate, super organized, and ever present to help his authors through any and every situation. I was especially pleased to see Barrett’s “reward” for Craig’s undying and unyielding devotion at the end of the book. All of Herron’s characters are realistic and true to form in reacting to the various roller coaster effects life brings to everyone. A great read, guaranteed to please readers of all ages and every genre.

Ankita Shukla

Dead End Street by R.L. Herron is the fourth book in the Reichold Street Series. This series revolves around a group of friends (Paul, Janice, Randy Cameron, Don Cameron, Ken Pozanski, William Strate, and Albert Parker) and a series of stalkers who ensure that these friends are always in harm's way. In Dead End Street, Paul has lost his girlfriend, Carrie, in a car accident that was conspired by one of his war buddies, Blake Thompson. Since then, Paul has thrown himself into his work to avoid the loneliness. Although this has worked pretty well, his literary agent, Roger, is concerned with Paul's state of mind. When Paul receives an invitation to the wedding of his friends, Randy and Janice, Roger accompanies him to the venue. Little do they know that this festive occasion will turn out to be a fiasco.

The writing style of this author is very impressive. I like the way he keeps readers guessing and turning the pages in anticipation. It took me several pages to get a clue of what happened in the wedding that traumatized Paul so badly. The other aspect of the author's writing that impressed me a lot was the manner in which he created an emotional connection between characters and readers. The tidbits about the habits and the pasts of various characters helped me understand their thought processes and reactions. For instance, the constant -- yet tasteful -- mention of the loneliness that Carrie's absence created in Paul's life created a soft corner for Paul in my heart. I wanted him to be happy.

The essence of the book, in my opinion, is the value of friendship. Although Paul chooses to stay far away from his friends to keep them (and himself) out of trouble, he realizes that real happiness lies in their company. The personality of each character is unique and amusing. There is something different about every one of them. Having said that, not having read any other books in the series, I had to put in a little effort to grasp the back story. However, Dead End Street was worth it.