I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two homicide detectives in the late 40’s find themselves in over their heads when three victims tied to Hitler sympathizers are found with their bodies mutilated, and tensions begin running high both personally and professionally for the detectives in author Steve Bassett’s novel, “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge”. 


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The Synopsis

Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge, the second book of the Passaic River Trilogy, is a drama so intense that it would be improbable anywhere but 1946 Newark. Across the country millions were dealing with the loss of loved ones, and horrible memories were being buried for the greater good. But not in Newark. Two mutilated bodies were pulled from the putrid Passaic River, and the sawed-off arm of a third man was found neatly wrapped and tied at the city dump. The three victims were members of the German-American Bund, Hitler lovers who had to pay the price for supporting a murderous madman. Someone was sending a message that only revenge could clear the mind and free the soul.

It didn’t take long for Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco and his partner, Sergeant Kevin McClosky, two veteran homicide cops [first introduced to readers in “Father Divine’s Bikes” the first book of the Trilogy], to realize they were in over their heads as they grappled with ambition, greed, racial tension, international intrigue, and a powerful church on the take. The three murders could not have come at a worse time for Cisco. His wife, Connie, had left him, and his close-knit Catholic family had disowned him because of his affair with his lover, Grace.

To add to the chaos, Cisco learned that he could have another homicide on his plate. Father Terry Nolan cornered Cisco at the city morgue and demanded his help. The senior counsel for M.L. Kraus, manufacturer of the poisonous gas Zyklon B, and his German wife were severely beating a Catholic orphan they were seeking to adopt. The Archdiocese had weighed Kraus’ huge cash contributions against a helpless girl’s plight and did nothing.

Kraus, facing a host of war crime indictments in Germany, was fighting for its massive pre-war chemical holdings in New Jersey. A federal court in Newark would soon decide Kraus’ fate. The outcome of the case would have a bearing not only on the company’s future, but Europe’s as well. Watching it all from the banks of the Passaic River was the dark specter of a murderous madman seeking further revenge.

The Review

A phenomenal story of grisly murders, tensions from a long fought and gruesome war, and so much more take center stage in this truly wonderful novel. The story echoes the great days of crime fiction and noir style storytelling, highlighting an era of upheaval and change in the United States and around the world in the wake of the Second World War. 

The novel focuses heavily on story through characterization. The book is filled with rich and diverse characters, each bringing their own set of problems and history that enhance the overall story and make the ongoing investigations and actions of other characters have much more emphasis on the overall story. Combined with the theme and genre of the story, this characterization draws the reader in immediately and gets the reader hooked on the action of the novel throughout every chapter. 

The Verdict

This is a must read crime fiction read of 2019. A high octane drama with in-depth character development and edge of your seat thrills, this novel is the perfect winter read for any fan of the crime thriller genre. Those who love the classic noir style storytelling will absolutely love this novel, and despite it being the second novel in a series, the reader will find this novel stands on its own and is easily able to be absorbed. An evenly paced read overall, be sure to grab your copies of “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge” by Stephen Bassett today!

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

Born and raised in Newark’s crime-ridden Third Ward, although far removed during a career as a multiple award-winning journalist, Steve Bassett has always been the proud sobriquet Jersey Guy. He has been legally blind for almost a decade, but having this hasn’t slowed him down.

Bassett has written two nonfiction books, The Battered Rich and Golden Ghetto: How the Americans and French Fell In and Out of Love During the Cold War. Continuing with his newest fiction release, Father Divine’s Bikes (a Finalist in the 2018 International Book Award in the Cross-Genre Fiction category), readers share in his insights that earned him three Emmys for investigative documentaries, and the California Bar Association’s first Medallion Award for Distinguished Reporting on the Administration of Justice. He now resides in Placitas, New Mexico with his wife, Darlene.

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Anthony Avina, (Born March 1990), is an author, a journalist, and a blogger. Born in Southern California, he has battled through injuries, disabilities, moves back and forth across the country, and more, yet still maintains a creative voice that he hopes to use not only to entertain but to inspire hope in even the darkest situations. He writes short stories and novels in several genres, and is also a seasoned journalist for the online magazine, On Request Magazine, as well as the popular site TheGamer. Having grown up reading the books of Dean Koontz and Stephen King, they inspired him to write new and exciting stories that delved into the minds of richly developed characters. He constantly tries to write stories that have never been told before, and to paint a picture in your mind while you are reading the book, as if you could see every scene of the book as if it were a movie you were watching. His stories will get your imaginations working, and will also show that in spite of the most despairing and horrific situations, hope is never out of reach. He am always writing, and so there will never be a shortage of new stories for your reading pleasure. http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

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