Spine Breakers: “72 Hours” by Dietrich Stogner

A few months ago, I was led like a horse to water, to the Library Police podcast. Hosted Dietrich Stogner and Josh Mauthe, this ‘cast involves intelligent discussions about books. I discovered this podcast through F. Paul Wilson’s monthly newsletter which gave a little blurb about an episode that the Library Pigs devoted to Mr. Wilson’s most beloved character, Repairman Jack (If you haven’t read about Jack get your hands on The Tomb right now!). I came, I listened, and I fell in love with this podcast; to know that people could speak so passionately about books hooked me instantly. After back tracking through past episodes (the Repairman Jack episode was number 35), I moved on to the new stuff and over the course of the ‘casts, co-host Dietrich Stogner announced that he had written a book and that it was set for release in early November. I had to jump at the bit to read this and I was shocked at what came from the pages.

First, I have to say that I don’t read a lot of crime thrillers. The last one I recall reading was The DaVinci Code and boy did that leave a bad taste in my mouth. But, I cast all doubts aside and picked up my copy of this fantastic novel, which may have changed my opinion on the subject.

72 Hours revolves around two ex-Navy engineers, Michael Whiting and Dave Lopez. Both have been civilians for a while and are searching for employment. Mike has the uncanny ability to win people over with the gift of gab. Lopez is a bit of an asshole, but applies himself with genius and an eidetic memory. Soon after the novel starts, Lopez comes to Mike with a job, a job that is going to change everything about these characters.

The job is simple at first, find the young Katie Stuart. What begins as a routine  investigation soon turns into something deeper and far more dangerous. After poking around for less than a day, Mike and Dave find themselves almost dead by Molotov cocktail. Amazingly, these criminals are thwarted first by Mike in the process and by Dave through a hail mary throw with an iron skillet into the windshield of the assailant’s car. From here, the novel takes a radical new turn and goes deeper into a world of drugs, gangs, and mathematical formulas to avoid the police.

Mike’s character takes a different path, one that involves shades of gray. After the murder of a Russian cartel member, the reader starts to see the path Mike is heading down and it’s very dark. This direction is further enhanced by a conversation with the antagonist of the story, Golovko. Despite this, you don’t see the ending coming and I sure as hell am not going to ruin it for you!

From listening to the podcast, I’ve gotten to know Dietrich a little and you can tell that he lives within this novel. He sticks to what he knows and the locations he’s familiar with. He places his characters around the central Tennessee area, which is home to the author. Dietrich was also a former nuclear technician on submarines with the U.S. Navy and gave a similar career path to his characters.

The story is paced excellently for a novel that takes place in 72 hours. Character development is slow at first but pays off towards the end of the novel, enough to beg for a sequel. My favorite parts of this book are the bits of comedy that run throughout. In particular, there is a hilarious example of a sequence diagram in chapter 9 that involves a clogged sink and Lopez’s testicles that will have you on the floor laughing.

In all, I want a sequel to this novel and I hope I get it; if you’re a fan of Dennis Lehane, who Dietrich sites as an influence, you will enjoy this novel. It’s not the same old song and dance, this is something very unique to the crime thriller genre; those willing to check this out can find it at Amazon.com for $9.99 in paperback and $4.99 as an e-book. You can’t afford to pass this up, it’s wholly worth your attention and the price of admission!

Dietrich Stogners website: http://dietrichstogner.com/

Amazon.com Store: http://www.amazon.com/Dietrich-Stogner/e/B005Y231SM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1322499467&sr=1-1-catcorr

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