This is an exceptionally well-written contribution to this genre. What I found curious at first was the author’s choice of genre. I had never before associated her level of competence – penetrating character analysis, lyrical description, philosophical introspection, immaculate detail, precise and powerful movement of the action, convincing dialogue – with this social context: strip joints, prostitutes, brutal enforcers, the seamy, sordid, disreputable, largely nocturnal, dangerous and deeply unattractive tranche of society most of us go to considerable lengths to avoid.
It works surprisingly well: because it reminds us that everyone involved in such a world in whatever capacity is as human as everyone else, with the same range of emotions and the same capacity for deep and desperate feelings of love and loss. Indeed, it’s highly likely that many fall into the ways of that world because of trauma and abuse suffered in childhood; and although as a result they often do terrible things, they have stories with the same validity and capacity to move as those of kings and queens, and of more mainstream heroes and heroines.
I recommend this book to those who would NOT normally choose to read within this genre: because they expect masturbational fantasy masquerading as literature – lubricious lingering on the sordid detail of scene after scene of gratuitous sex and violence. Sex and violence there is aplenty; but the quality of the writing elevates ‘Shadow of the Drill’ to a level far above what my prejudices have led me to expect is the norm in a genre I normally avoid. For that reason, it may well disappoint those who come to this book expecting to luxuriate in graphic depictions of sex and violence without having to be bothered with more than a token explanation of why the stereotypical characters associated with this genre behave in the way they do.
Rhani D’Chae is an exceptionally talented writer and this book is a tour de force. It takes the genre to an altogether more reputable and readable level.