BOOK REVIEW
Shirrel Rhoades

Senior Reviewer

Shirrel Rhoades is a writer, critic, filmmaker, former college professor, art collector, and publishing consultant. These days, he calls Key West home. He and his wife share their historic classic temple revival style house in Old Town with a number of dogs and cats.
Just Published!

Just
Published!

 

Contact Info:
email address:
reviews@aaeb.com

Address (By Appointment)
Absolutely Amazing eBooks
926 Truman Avenue,
Key West FL 33040

Fax [305] 414-8615

Sleeping Planet

Below Mile Zero
By Brooke Babineau,
$3.99

Buy This Book!

Key West is an end-of-the-road town and the reluctant hero in Below Mile Zero considered the island a safer clime than New Orleans. Or so it seemed until bullets started flying. Caught between bad guys, this drifter with no place left to drift must fight back, deal with betrayal, and come to terms with his past. . . or wake up dead. Brooke Babineau concocts a mean, fast-paced story that takes the reader for an island tour while keeping the adrenaline on high. $3.99
Below Mile Zero

I love a good mystery – and have read about everything in the genre from Edgar Allan Poe to David Baldacci. I grew up on Erle Stanley Gardner and graduated to Mickey Spillane. I cut my teeth on Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald. I've enjoyed the dialog of Elmore Leonard, the sparse style of Robert B. Parker, and the poetic prose of James Lee Burke. And I've devoured the more modern fare by James Patterson, John Grisham, and Harlon Coben. As well as the plucky female detectives of Sarah Paretsky, Sue Grafton, and Janet Evanovich. Now that I live in Key West, you can bet your rum punch I've read everything written by James T. Hall, Lawrence Shames, Michael Haskins, John Leslie, and Tom Corcoran (a particular favorite).
So I was pleased to get my hands on "Below Mile Zero," a Key West adventure written by Brooke Babineau.
Where does "Below Mile Zero" stack up among Key West thrillers? Larry Shames writes with a sardonic look at a gang-ridden Key West of his own imagination. James T. Hall is a hard-edged storyteller who concentrates on the upper Keys. John Leslie offers a private eye for aging baby boomers. Michael Haskin approaches his Key West mysteries with the enthusiasm of pulp fiction. Tom Corcoran with his "reluctant p.i." captures the Key West of today with loving detail. Brooke Babineau is more picaresque in his storytelling.
To wit: "Below Mile Zero" is a tale of drug smuggling, courage, and coming to terms with one’s self. The protagonist is a familiar character to those of us who live in this end-of-the-road town, a drifter who lands in Key West as a last resort and begins putting himself back together a piece at a time.
Seems our guy ran afoul of the wrong kingpin in New Orleans, a conflict that made faraway island life seem safer and simpler. But not so. When his newfound friends are drawn into a shoot-em-up situation with a bunch of bad guys, he summons up the guts he didn’t think he had and joins the fray.
There's a growing body count as people die on both sides of this underworld war, all told with a breathless realism.
The first-person narrative has the ring of verisimilitude.
Sitting across the table at Square One, I ask Brooke if there’s any of him in his "Below Mile Zero" character. He simply smiles.
"C'mon," I urge, "is any of the story taken from your life?"
"There’s always truth in fiction," he replied with a shrug.
Canadian by birth, Brooke Babineau found his way to Key West in 1984. "Thanks to a wrong turn," as he puts it. While working on fishing boats and doing marine salvage (like the no-name character in his book), he dabbled at writing screenplays and poetry. All the while gathering up the bar stories and tropical lore that would provide the backdrop of "Below Mile Zero."
These days Brooke is a dedicated writer. And a bit of an intellectual hiding behind a tough-guy demeanor. Proof can found in this thoughtful thriller, a manuscript salted with quotes by Mark Twain, Lord Byron, John Milton, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Francois Rabelais among others.
One of those quote offered a clue to my question about whether this Key Wester in a fishing cap had put any of himself into this two-fisted tale. It was an observation made by Mark Twain: "We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes."

- Shirrel Rhoades