Book Review: Three Kinds of Fool by Matt Phillips


Author: Matt Phillips

Publisher: All Due Respect

Release Date: August 2016


Jess Forsyth is a Southern California ex-con, content with his post-prison career cleaning pools for wealthy citizens. A chance reunion with barfly, gun-dealer and all-round shit-bird Mikey Watt sees Jess lured into a violent scam to rob brash young drug dealer Griffin – a plan that Mikey is convinced cannot fail. The ill-conceived robbery quickly veers off course however, and the resultant collateral damage binds the three men together in a violent, unpredictable battle of wills.

I was a big admirer of Matt Phillips’ previous two books – Redbone (Number 13 Press) and Bad Luck City (Near To The Knuckle) – but the scuzzy California noir of Three Kinds of Fool may be his best work yet. Less claustrophobic than its predecessors, the story feels looser and more fluid, the canvas more expansive and the narrative more volatile. Jess himself is an enjoyably conflicted protagonist, whose actions never fail to confound, and chief antagonists Mikey and Griffin are sufficiently duplicitous, and keep the plot twists coming. On a technical level, Phillips writing is as strong as ever, and his prose has a deft, lyrical quality, even as the bullets fly and the blood spills.  Great stuff.

Reviewed by Tom Leins

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