My book this week is by a Greensboro writer of books about guns and ammunition. A FLASH OF RED was his first novel. The hardcover came out in 1996, but I discovered it with the mass market paperback in 1997. It falls into that category of what today is called redneck noir(J.D. Rhoades, I think, came up with that description).
Tyler Vance writes books about guns. He is in line at the drive-through of his Greensboro bank with a residuals check when he interrupts a robbery. Two thugs boil out of the bank at that moment in front of him. Armed with machine pistols, they draw down on Vance when they notice him watching.
Reacting automatically, he grabs a gun lying on the seat beside him and takes out both in a gun battle.
You see, Vance is no ordinary writer. In a shadowy past in Korea in the seventies, during his military career, he was trained in wet work and all sorts of other dirty tricks.
Two other robbers manage to escape out of the other side of the bank. One is an international gunrunner and the bank heist was to finance his latest deal. And one of the dead men was his brother. Swearing revenge, he goes after Vance.
The rest of the book deals with Vance’s efforts to protect his family and himself. A widower, he has a four year old son and a father living with him. Some of the chase and action scenes are in areas of Greensboro with which I’m entirely familiar(Greensboro is only about thirty-five miles from my home).
The writing is lean and muscular, occasionally a little flowery, but a promising first novel. Harvey knows his weapons and what they can do. That shines through.
A good little thriller.
There were two other novels in the series. A WHISPER OF BLACK appeared in hardcover in 1999 and DWELLING IN THE GRAY in 2000. The latter dealt with Vance’s back story, his time in the military in the seventies.
Harvey also published three PI novels about Connor Gibbs during that same period. They were written under the name Leo Atkins to honor his Mother. Atkins was her maiden name and Cleo was her first.
I’ve never met Harvey, though we have spoken on the phone. How that happened was a cousin working on a crew during the 2000 census. She called me one day and asked me if I had ever read Harvey. I started describing the first one. That’s when she told me he was the supervisor on her crew. Upon telling him that, he got my number and called.
During that conversation, I learned of the Atkins pseudonym on two books at the time, the third coming out later in the year.
I don’t know what happened, but, unless he’s using a third name, there hasn’t been any new fiction since 2000. A shame.
All six books are available on the used sites at ridiculously low prices. Worth a look for those that like this type of fiction.