Crime Thriller RENEGADE PAWN—”This book is not for the faint of heart.”

Reviewed by Steve Leshin for Readers’ Favorite

Renegade Pawn by Craig S. Wilson is book one in a series about the main protagonist, Lucas Rocha, a Brazilian youth living in the slums in Rio de Janeiro with his two younger twin sisters, Fernanda and Inez. Book one starts out with the torture and murder of Lucas’s older brother, Patricio, by a death squad. Patricio is described as one of the most notorious thieves in the area. Lucas knows he led a life of crime to help the family. With both parents no longer around, it is now up to Lucas to care for his younger sisters. It is carnival time in Rio and Lucas, despite nightmares of his brother’s death, tries to earn some extra money from tourists.

Enter Daniel Burke from Boston. We learn he was born in Brazil and is from the area around Rio. We also find out he is a young undercover cop who is under investigation for an incident. Events converge to bring Lucas Rocha and Daniel together. While shining Daniel’s shoes near the airport, Lucas sees the young cop’s wallet and in a sudden movement, he swipes it and runs. This leads to Daniel reporting the loss to a beautiful woman at the information counter of the airport, named Gabriela Serrano. The chance meeting leads to a romance between the two. Meanwhile, we learn more about Lucas and his plans to join a gang in order to gain more income for his small family while, in the back of his mind, he seeks revenge for his brother’s murder.

Renegade Pawn introduces us to the seamier parts of Rio with a brief history of life for the poorer residents and their struggles versus the richer residents and how the government favors the rich. This book is not for the faint of heart. Wilson does a good job fleshing out the characters of Lucas and Daniel, as well as secondary characters like Gabriela, and the gang leader called “Dez” amongst others. The dialogue is crisp and the descriptions of the different areas in Rio serve to bolster the story even more. Wilson packs a lot into the 160 plus pages of Book One. The reader is left wanting more from Book Two.

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