Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Midland Club by Mark Spano is a gritty story of love, secrets, corruption and murder in a small Midwestern town, a story that is told in an exciting and absorbing voice. Meet Richard St. Pierre, a man who spends sleepless nights wondering if Puce, the “Negro homosexual with no family to speak of,” was murdered or if he killed himself. But there is more than the death of a Negro, so much more than other murders in the town. Rich St. Pierre wants nothing but the truth and there is only one way to find out: attend Garland’s birthday party. This means meeting the people who know a lot about him at the Midland Club, and men of his father’s age who hate him, except Uncle Bud, his mother’s sibling. Can he unravel the truth and solve a murder mystery, even if this means putting his own life in grave danger?
Mark Spano is a great storyteller and the absorbing, clear, and humorous narrative voice will arrest the attention of readers. The story has a complex plot with fascinating characters. The point of view comes out very neatly in the first person narrative. The prose captures powerful scenes and images that will stay with the reader. The dialogues are minimal and I enjoyed the fact that they are not forced; they read like natural, logical conversations. The protagonist introduces himself in very clear terms: “Since the interruption of my legal career, I have spent very little time making a living. I inherited some income after my father’s death. Marty prevented me from having any control over the family properties, but he couldn’t prevent me from receiving my trust fund income. My rent is low. My car is old. I seem to spend most of my money on phonograph records, concerts, liquor, and the pursuit of sex.” Midland Club is a story that perfectly integrates the spirit of the western, featuring a complex plot that will excite readers and drive them to read on. It is pure delight, composed with beautiful social commentaries and wonderful themes.