Book Review: Mojo Rising by Bob Pastorella

There’s an intoxicating narcotic noir tone to Mojo Rising

mojoThe great thing about novellas is that they don’t have the luxury of easing the reader into the story, of gently introducing characters and situations before getting down to business. Instead they need to grab the reader by the lapels and pull them right in, and Mojo Rising by Bob Pastorella does just that and then refuses to let go.

From the first paragraph, where we are introduced to small time drug dealer Juney as he discovers that his brother Chance appears to have gone AWOL, Pastorella takes us on a high-octane rollercoaster ride through the dark and dingy underbelly of society. When Juney finds that his cook has been murdered, apparently as a message by rivals peddling a new drug called Mojo in direct competition with his own, he sets out in search of Chance and an old acquaintance who may or may not be cooking up this new wonder drug.

Before long Juney has tasted this new product for himself, and that’s when Pastorella really pulls the rug from under our feet as Juney struggles to differentiate between what is real and what isn’t, particularly as the world on Mojo increasingly seems far more normal than the drug free, real world version.

There’s an intoxicating narcotic noir tone to Mojo Rising that keeps the pages turning at a rapid rate as Juney ricochets from one surreal and mind warping situation to another. Despite the fact that Juney couldn’t really be described by any stretch of the imagination as either likeable or heroic, Pastorella does such a magnificent job of capturing the dark and captivating depths of the human psyche and presenting them as irresistibly seductive that the reader can’t help but find him interesting and engaging.

Pastorella has a real gift for language, particularly when it comes to dialogue, with lengthy conversations taking place between Juney and other characters without so much as a ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ in sight. In fact, once you’ve read Mojo Rising, it’s difficult not to feel that dialogue in other authors’ works feels somewhat stilted and clunky in comparison.

Mojo Rising is an impressive novella – dark, twisted and to be devoured in a single sitting followed by a stiff drink and a cigarette. As an encore, Pastorella’s short story ‘Pork Chop’ is also included, serving as a prequel of sorts to Mojo Rising in that we are introduced to several of the characters that populate Mojo Rising’s grimy yet gorgeous world.


Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing
Paperback (113pp)
Release Date: 21 March 2016

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