Shark’s Instinct by Bethany Maines is Book One in The Shark Santoyo Crime Series. I note this because I like to start reading a series with Book One; I just never seem to succeed. The novel has helpful Chapters named by dates, so readers know when a backstory is about to happen. The entire novel takes place between 09 October and 21 October. After Chapter Monday—October 16, we have Chapter Two Weeks Ago which is in turn followed by Chapter Tuesday, October 17. We also have Chapter Thursday, October 19 followed by Chapter Five Years Ago followed by Chapter Thursday, October 19. A table of contents can be informative and not boring.
Shark is a twenty-five-year-old (approximate) ex-convict. It wasn’t that he wanted to be a criminal, but he got involved with a beautiful woman who loved the good life which meant having money. When the two conspired to steal from her uncle, plans went wrong, police arrived, the lovely Francesca blamed everything on Shark, and he went to jail. Francesca went to another country with a man even richer than her uncle. Now out of prison and facing a future with no meaningful legitimate employment, Shark wanted back in the “game.”
There are many rival gangs in this 170-page novel. There are the street drug gangs and the next-level-up gangs that controlled and moved money. At the management level, Big Paulie was collecting money and not sending the required money to the next level, run by Geier. Paulie was skimming profits for his own retirement account. Shark saw an opportunity and promised Geier that he would recover the money from Big Paulie and Geier accepted the offer with a zero-tolerance consequence should Shark fail. So far, this is a straightforward find-my-money deal.
Shark has a couple of trusted associates who possess requisite skills such as safe cracking and strong-arm intimidation and feels confident he and his crew can do the job. Suddenly, a teenage looking girl approaches Shark. She is not working at Shark’s level; she wants to eliminate a drug rival so that she can establish her own power base. At least that is how things appear to Shark. Peri is a high school criminal savant and is known to her friends as a fixer. If anyone is bullied or blackmailed, Peri, known as the “Godmother,” is the person to go to.
It should go without saying that Shark is incredibly handsome, and Peri is incredibly beautiful, attractive, cute, and streetwise far beyond her years. This is a fast-moving, interesting, fast-paced story with lots of insider gangster dialogue. There is an obvious conflict as Shark and Peri try to avoid romantic involvement with each other. Fans of action will like the well-described fight scenes. This is a YA novel on steroids. There is no gratuitous sexual language or even unnecessary violence. I think that is remarkable in a novel of violence in the drug trade. I give this novel five Amazon stars in its genre. Don’t compare it to literary classics, but it is a very good story. This is USD 1.99 on Amazon, is not available through Kindle Unlimited, but is worth the purchase price.