Not strictly a review, but a lovely blurb-like note from Sam Wiebe, who included Almost Criminal in his list of Top Ten Vancouver Crime Novels. Sam writes:
Like Breaking Bad or Fargo, the novel’s strength comes from the ways ordinary suburban life butts up against a criminal underworld it can’t ignore. Brown’s storytelling is skillful and has literary heft.
The Globe & Mail
This is funny and twisted in the same vein as Breaking Bad (but very Canadian on the crime) with tons of great Lower Mainland vibes. This is Brown’s debut and it’s an auspicious one. – Margaret Cannon – read the complete review here.
Deadly Diversions and Reviewing the Evidence
A debut so good it’s almost criminal… It’s always a joy to mark the appearance of a fresh voice on the crime-writing scene, and we hope for more good things from this talented writer. Jim Napier is an established writer and teacher of creative writing. His reviews and interviews have appeared in many newspapers and websites. Read the full review at Deadly Diversions, or in a slightly different version at Reviewing the Evidence.
Booklist (the American Library Association)
Starred Review: Tate is a fresh narrative voice, and Randle, who could have been a fairly stereotypical drug-dealing villain, has surprising depth; he’s even a weird sort of father figure for young Tate. If you took a gritty crime novel and a coming-of-age story and squashed them together, you might get something very close to this fine book. – David Pitt – read the complete review here (login required).
With convincing characters and a lack of cartoonish violence, this is a good read for those with an interest in how marijuana cultivation can underpin vast swathes of a community in myriad ways.
The teenaged protagonist has the mostly usual problems endemic to the age: family, school, money, unrequited love etc, making this a good book for young adult and reluctant readers as well. – Ron Stadnick – read the complete review here.
…a morality tale involving family loyalties and responsibilities and the corrupting power of money… some surprising revelations and resolutions lead to an enjoyable read. – Hilary Daninhirsch. Read the complete review here.
… a tale about parallel worlds, the one we live in and that instant society that flies under our radar. It’s a tightrope from which one fall is fatal. E.R.Brown lays out the territory with tight pacing and insightful dialogue that captures the panic that is but one mistake away. – Don Graves. Read the full article here.
Quill & Quire
…Tate and Kennedy develop a Jim Hawkins/Long John Silver kind of relationship, with Kennedy filling the role of the charismatic father-figure Tate can’t quite trust, and Tate as the wunderkind protégé who’s just too “good” to be bad. – Stacey Madden
Read Jack Batten’s mini-review here.
Read Me Deadly
…shortlisted for the 2014 Edgar Award… I hope it wins; it offers a disturbing and honest look at a problem as huge and intractable as Prohibition was to an earlier generation. The full review is here (scroll down – it’s halfway down the page).
Stop, You’re Killing Me!
An Agatha-award-winning website and Facebook page dedicated to the mystery novel. Their coverage of Almost Criminal is here.
Lights Up 7.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. Everything you want out of an entertaining read — direct, crisp, and lightly comical with well-drawn characters and believable events. Read it here: Almost Criminal Breaks Bad With Pot
What a book! Fantastic read and entirely addicting. The moments surrounding Randle’s last breath… well played! 10/10! From @bshilly (Brock Shillington)
From Goodreads (Almost Criminal’s rating: 4.83 out of 5)
An amazing ride from start to finish. Even when real life was calling, it pained me to put down this excellent book. 5 Stars, my favorite book so far this year and after this ride it will be hard to believe something will beat it. – Geoff Prophet
An excellent read! Well written crime story that gives the reader an inside glimpse of the BC drug trade through the eyes of Tate, a brilliant teenage screwup. Loved that it was set in BC. Look forward to reading more from ER Brown. -jennh35
The Vancouver Sun: “Grow-op novel nets Vancouver author an Edgar Award nomination” By Tracy Sherlock. Read the story here or below, (used with permission).
The North Shore Outlook: “B.C. crime novelist waits in suspense after being shortlisted for an Edgar” By Justin Beddall. Read the story here.
“E.R.Brown hits it out of the park — great characters and storytelling evocative of Elmore Leonard.” -Rick Mofina
“ALMOST CRIMINAL is a wildly fun read. The concept is original, characters are vivid and fleshed-out, and the story surprised me at each turn, with its unlikely teen hero turning conventional morals upside down. E.R. Brown is an exciting addition to the Canadian crime scene.” – Robin Spano
Robin is the author of the hugely entertaining Clare Vengel Undercover series. Visit Robin’s website.