Tuesday, 12 May 2015

BOOK REVIEW: 'NO STRINGS' BY MARK SAFRANKO



SaFranko's protagonist in No Strings, Richard Marzten, is a man who has it all; coming from humble beginnings in a small mining community in backwater Pennsylvania, he has married into money and finds himself living in the lap of luxury in the affluent New Jersey suburbs. He is living the dream and wants for nothing, or does he? The thing about dreams is that once they come true, oftentimes they don't quite live up to the billing. It is human nature to want more, to get better, to strive for greater things, but that can sometimes land you in the shit, as Mr Marzten quickly discovers... 

His wife is several years his senior and steadily losing her looks. He is no spring chicken himself but feels that has something to prove to himself and thus decides to have an affair. Wary that his wife will catch on to his extramarital activities before they even get going he hatches an elaborate plan to cover his tracks. Before looking twice at another woman he gives off all the warning signs of an affair - Staying out late with no explanation, taking extra care of himself, washing his own clothes, etc - This sets the alarm bells ringing and his wife hires a private detective to shadow him. Finding nothing untoward going on, her mind is put to rest and the coast is clear for Richard to do as he pleases.

Placing an ad in the personals leads him to Gretchen; a young, attractive woman who is also married to money and looking for a discreet, no strings attached affair. Richard can hardly believe his luck and at first everything is perfect. He is having the best sex of his life with a vibrant, young beauty and his wife doesn't have a clue. In the character's own words he is having his cake and eating it. However, good things rarely last forever and Richard soon finds his life spiralling out of control. Betrayal, deceit, blackmail, murder... How far will he go to protect his comfortable, cosy life?!

SaFranko's prose is crisp and concise as always, and the novel zips along at a frenetic pace. Marzten's reprehensible actions don't make it easy to root for him, but the first person narrative gives a weight and honesty to the character which makes it difficult not to sympathise with his predicament. He knows he's fucked up, he's knows he an asshole and he knows that he's probably going down, so he may as well go down swinging. This is a fun read that will keep you guessing until the end and is well worth parting with a few of your hard earned. Originally released in 2012 by Black Coffee Press it has recently been giving a shiny new (and deserved) release by Thomas and Mercer. Grab a copy on Amazon UK or Amazon US right now.

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