REVIEW: This Ragged, Wastrel Thing by Tomas Marcantonio

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On day two of my honeymoon, I stayed in a Micro Hotel in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong. It was a beautifully ugly cell, compounding the effects of our jet lag and hangover. The noises and smells bombarded us from outside and echoed through the grills of that tiny windowless square tiled room ⁠— it was immense.

This Ragged, Wastrel Thing by Tomas Marcantonio brought all this back. Marcantonio’s first outing in the Sonaya Nights trilogy is so rich in its description… It resonates, echoes around and envelopes you as you read.

A cinematic and theatrical neo-noir painting dripping old-school masters of the genre on to a new canvas using rare concentrated pigments. With beautifully rich backdrops, scenes and characters – it’s a real treat for the imagined senses.

Full of such sharp vivid rich lines and dialogue… The essence of James Ellroy, James Sallis and Charles Willeford… Ryu Murakami… And Robert Towne’s Chinatown screenplay are all here.

Neo-noir escapism to a perfectly believable place filled with dark damp alleys below shiny neon-filled tower blocks. The contrasts, twists, turns and manipulations by untrusted authorities are wrapped in the context of a much-needed escape, whilst managing also, a sharp commentary on our times.

Dark dank alleys jar perfectly against neon flashes and high-class LA style pool parties as drones track overhead.

The noirish hard-boiled heavy drinking and cynical down on his luck tropes are all here in glorious colours. Celebrated, emulated and enhanced in technicolour in Tomases great writing here. You can taste it. I felt it in the first few lines and it goes on like that. I found it addictive waiting for the next canny metaphor or lush description to take me away. Looking forward to each chance I got to pick it up to read.

It’s Bladerunner, with some pure James Ellroy style noir magic.

But, more than the genre masters it so comfortably echoes, it conjures up a uniqueness; taking you somewhere new and perfectly crafted to get lost in. Sonaya is well shaped, tangible and it firmly exists here. Seamlessly imagined steps are taken as your guided from high-end gloss to despair from one well-realised district to another.

Tomas Marcantonio has started a crime noir gift for readers here. It was a joy to get lost in. I’m looking forward to his next Sonaya Nights book.

This Ragged, Wastrel Thing will be out 1st August and is available here with STORGY BOOKS. It’s beautiful on the outside and there’s a real neo-noir treat on the inside.

Now, wheres those noodles to wash down with a sake and bucket of red wine chaser?

Reviewed by John Bowie 01.07.2020


Tomas Marcantonio is a novelist and short story writer from Brighton, England. He graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English Language and Film, and his fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, both online and in print. Tomas is currently based in Busan, South Korea, where he teaches English and writes whenever he can escape the classroom. You can follow him on Twitter @TJMarcantonio.

This Ragged, Wastrel Thing book review
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