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TLC Review: Immoral Origins by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Title: Immoral Origins
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction (thriller)
Pages: 278 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (NY)

SummaryIt’s 1978 in New York City, and disco is prominent. As are mobsters, gritty streets, needle parks and graffiti-stained subways.

Jake Barnum lives in Hell’s Kitchen. He’s a petty thief selling hot coats with his buddy Maggs to make ends meet and help his sick kid brother. At a Halloween party downtown, he meets a woman with a Marilyn Monroe mask who works for an organization called The Desire Card—an underground operation promising its exclusive clients “Any Wish Fulfilled for the Right Price.”

As Jake becomes taken with its leader, a pseudo father and sociopath at heart, he starts stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. In other words…himself. But as he dives deeper in with the Card, begins falling love with Marilyn, and sees the money rolling in, clients’ wishes start becoming more and more suspect—some leading to murder.

The first book in the Desire Card series, Immoral Origins follows those indebted to this sinister organization—where the ultimate price is the cost of one’s soul.

Review: This is my third Lee Michael Goldberg novel (see my reviews of Runaway Train and Stalker Stalked) and unfortunately, not my favorite. I was pulled in immediately in the first few pages, but for me, this wasn't the right book.

This novel is gritty and will appeal to many people; it has a 4.31 rating on Goodreads so I think I am in the minority. It feels a bit like a film noir movie, I could definitely picture it as I read: 1950s Hollywood-style main woman, good guy main male character who gets mixed up in bad business, and the many supporting characters who are gangsters/mobsters and other nefarious types. I picture foggy city streets, trench coats, and cigarettes.

Goldberg is really good at visuals and setting a scene. I did feel steeped in the setting of the book but I didn't connect to the characters even though they were vivid. If it was a film, it wouldn't be my genre either so I don't want to knock the novel since it just isn't my type of read. If you like this sort of story and setting I say read this book because you will enjoy it.

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