Cover image for The barbed-wire kiss
The barbed-wire kiss
Stroby, Wallace.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2003.
Physical Description:
340 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Two years ago, Harry Rane's wife died after a bout with cancer. Then, grief-stricken and careless, he went back to his job as a New Jersey state cop and got shot in the line of duty. He took early retirement, and now lives in an old farmhouse in rural New Jersey and takes life one day at a time. It's not much, but he gets by.

Things change when an old friend from his grade school days in Long Branch calls him for help. Bobby was Harry's best friend until high school graduation, but when Harry went to the police academy Bobby went another way, working, dealing a little on the side. Now he's taken one last chance and gotten in over his head for $50,000 to Eddie Fallon, a local crime boss. Harry goes to see Fallon on Bobby's behalf, hoping to work something out, but it's hard to negotiate with a man like Fallon, and things quickly get complicated, and dangerous.

He does learn, too, that he and Fallon have something in common --- Fallon's wife is an ex-girlfriend Harry hasn't seen since he was eighteen, a girl who was pregnant with his child when she ran away.

In this brooding, blistering debut set against the spare, atmospheric background of downstate New Jersey, Harry gets caught between his past and his future, between right and vengeance.

Author Notes

Wallace Stroby is a journalist for the New Jersey Star Ledger and lives in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. This is his first novel.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stroby's dazzling debut stars the Grieving Ex-Cop, adds the Old Girl Friend Now Married to a Mobster, stirs in A Little Favor to Help Out a Best Friend-and still manages to wake us up like the slap of a wave on the New Jersey shore. When his best boyhood buddy comes to former state trooper and widower Harry Rane with a problem involving an abortive drug deal and a nasty local mobster, Harry offers to act as an honest broker, but new problems quickly arise. The mobster has been married for the last three years to a woman who 19 years before was forced to leave town by her parents after getting pregnant by Harry. So the stage is set for lots of angst and melodrama-made not only bearable but actually fascinating, largely because Stroby has created several instantly credible characters and has made them walk over his familiar terrain as if they were the first people ever to have done so. It also helps that his many action scenes are original and exciting, and that anyone who's ever been to Asbury Park or taken the ferry from New Jersey to Delaware will feel right at home. (Feb. 28) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ex-cop Harry Rane, recovering from the death of his wife and forced into semi-retirement by a bullet wound, comes to the rescue of his longtime friend Bobby. Bobby has made a big mistake: he has invested money with a partner for a "one-time" drug buy. The partner has disappeared with the cash, but the supplier, a suspicious character under scrutiny by New Jersey cops, still wants his money. Fortunately, Rane devises a plan meant to keep the heat off his friend. Hard-hitting prose and tidy plotting complicated by crime bosses, ex-girlfriends, pregnant wives, and bumptious Jersey-shore surroundings make for an excellent first mystery. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.