Tag Archives: Craig A. Hart

‘Serenity Avenged,’ by Craig A. Hart

This is the third in Craig A. Hart’s “Serenity” series of thrillers, starring Shelby Alexander, retired boxer and ethical thug, who has retired to his home town of Serenity, Michigan. For peace and quiet, which he never gets.

In Serenity Avenged, Shelby drives in haste to Grand Rapids, where his daughter is in the hospital with pregnancy complications. There he is reunited with his ex-wife, Helen. His feelings for Helen are definitely mixed. They get more mixed – but also protective – when he learns that Helen has large gambling debts. But when the loan shark threatens their daughter, he moves into action.

There were elements in this book that I liked. I like the male banter between Shelby and his friend Mack, though it’s overdone in places. I like Shelby himself as a character, and the hints of conservativism that sneak out through the narrative now and then. I liked a new character who faced some serious moral dilemmas and made the right decisions at a cost to himself.

But Serenity Avenged wore out my suspension of disbelief. We’re getting into heavy thriller territory here, to the extent of including a psychopathic supervillain with a secret lair. That seemed (to me) kind of out of proportion for a loan shark in Grand Rapids. Villains like that should be plotting to overthrow the nation or the Anglo-American alliance or something.

So I’m done with this series, at least for now. Your mileage may vary. Cautions for language and intense violence.

‘Serenity Stalked,’ by Craig A. Hart

We move along now to book two in Craig A. Hart’s “Serenity” series, set in a fictional town in Michigan. In Serenity Stalked we find our hero, ex-boxer and ex-“fixer” Shelby Alexander, continuing his affair with Carly, a much younger woman. When Carly tells him she’s being pestered by an old boyfriend, who happens to be married, Shelby (against Carly’s wishes) decides to have “a little talk” with him.

When the old boyfriend turns up murdered shortly thereafter, along with his family, the local sheriff – who does not like Shelby at all – makes him his prime suspect.

But the real killer is watching. He’s an accomplished serial killer, and now he’s focusing on Carly as his next victim. The reader will spend considerable time in his creepy company as he makes his plans to eliminate Shelby and take Carly for his own purposes.

True to the form of the first book, Serenity, Serenity Stalked is a fairly straightforward story, opting for action and suspense over mystery. Our hero is reactive in his actions, but fortunately for everyone his reaction time is fast and his fighting skills superior. And there’s a nice surprise at the end. For the action fan, Serenity Stalked offers value for money.

I may read the next one. Haven’t made up my mind yet.

‘Serenity,’ by Craig A. Hart

This book is not to be confused with the science fiction TV series, “Serenity.” However, you could plausibly cast Nathan Fillion as the hero.

Shelby Alexander, hero of Serenity, is a former prizefighter. After that he became what he calls a “fixer,” solving people’s problems through the application of violence. Finally, in his ‘60s, he has returned to his home town of Serenity, Michigan (northern Lower Peninsula) for a more peaceful life.

Not going to happen.

One night Shelby looks out his window and sees a human figure huddled in the snow by his barn. He finds a woman there, a local character named Jenny Ellis, mentally retarded and the only well-liked member of her family. The Ellises are local outlaws, known to be involved in the drug trade. Jenny dies before help can come.

Then, to his surprise, Shelby gets a visit from Jenny’s brother Harper, the head of the family. He wants Shelby to investigate Jenny’s death. Bigger criminals from Detroit are moving into the area, trying to take over the Ellis drug operations. Shelby has no desire to work for the Ellises, but he did like Jenny, so he agrees to look into it.

Before long he’s got people shooting at him, and the new sheriff – very possibly corrupt – is trying to frame Shelby for murder. But Shelby has handled worse.

What you’ve got here is a pretty simple story. This is not a cerebral mystery. In fact, Shelby Alexander never once deduces anything – he reacts to events and generally solves problems with his fists. Action is the watchword here, and in those terms the book is pretty good. There were also moments when Shelby expressed opinions on the social conservatism side, so I liked that.

Serenity is pure entertainment, probably aimed at male readers, and I recommend it after its kind. Cautions for the usual.