Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trial of Tears by Chris Semal review

‘Pulp Fiction’ meets ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ in this tough, funny, sexy and fast-paced story.

Pete Watts is a former undercover narcotics cop who got way too close to his job. He now runs a music rehearsal studio in which all manner of eccentric musicians come through. His soon to be ex-girlfriend is a talented singer with a sleazy manager who is in the habit of giving his clients drug habits, occasionally overdosing them to move their recordings up the charts, with the full support of the shady entertainment company for whom he works.

This universe of people is inexorably drawn into a war between two violent drug gangs, viewed through the perspective of the Napoleonic leader of one gang. He has recently signed on a strange, but beautiful ex-mercenary, who wears makeup in the form of multi-colored tears running down her face. These tears are, in fact, decals on which different poisons are concealed, hence the title. Some survive the Trial of Tears, some don’t. The story’s taut climax is set in a posh townhouse in which only the courageous will emerge unscathed.

While it certainly has its share of humor, action and suspense, it is also a story of friendship and redemption, as well as being a love letter to New York City.

4 stars

Trial of Tears follows Pete, an ex-undercover narcotic cop who now runs a small time recording studio.  While out enjoying himself with some friends at a local club he finds a member of the performing band dead in the bathroom of an OD, bringing his old life rushing back to him.  

I really enjoyed this book a lot.  I have never been to New York myself, but can tell that the city has great meaning for the author.  The descriptions of the places and the nightlife are vivid and well done.  The characters are really the highlight of the book though.   Pete and his best friend Styx are two pretty average guys, which contributes greatly to their appeal.  They have a great back and forth with their dialogue, leading to a good amount of humor being thrown into a book that is pretty serious in nature.  Most of the bad guys are pretty serious sociopaths who are believable enough to make the thought of them a bit frightening.  I know I never want to meet people who would make jokes while lighting a homeless man on fire.  

The story flows smoothly and did a wonderful job pulling me into Chris's world.  By the end of the book I was taking my copy with me everywhere I went to see how it ended.  I checked his webpage and saw that there is a sequel in the works and that is something I will be checking out for sure.

For more info check out the book's Amazon listing or go to the author's website.


  1. I'll be looking this one up - sounds really interesting.

    1. I think this one is right up your alley Janet. Hopefully you'll enjoy it.