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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The Three Lives of Richie O'Malley by William Lobb breaks new ground in how crime drama should be written. Richie O’Malley is an assassin who is trying to leave his past behind, but if there’s anything that movies and crime novels have taught us is that it’s easier said than done. As the first-person narrator, Richie opens his tale with how he inherited a snub-nosed .38 Smith and Wesson from his Uncle Angel, whom everyone fondly calls Unk. Richie considers himself a social engineer for twisting and manipulating everyone to fit his game. Now he needs a quiet life as he struggles with self-awareness. Of course, the past will always have a way of catching up with him, and the paradox is that the more he tries to live a quiet life, the deeper he delves into the noise of what made him what he is today.
The Three Lives of Richie O'Malley is an incredibly engaging story, one that doesn’t feel like it's an enormous undertaking to read. The opening is effective in gradually revealing a flawed character, one that you will expect to face insurmountable struggles as the story progresses. There is a compact sense to Richie’s life story that is often lacking in crime novels, reminiscent of the economy of Elmore Leonard’s works, which makes William Lobb an engaging crime fictionist. It is easy to appreciate how much he brings a character to life that is deftly violent and sympathetic when he becomes believable. It is a rare modern crime story that makes me hope there will be a sequel. It works because it values character and plot construction without the trappings of overblown hype typical in today’s crime novels. This is undoubtedly a must-read for the kind of entertainment it brings to the genre.