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The Black Ace [Paperback]

G.B. Joyce

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Book Description

March 12 2013

Hatred, blackmail, and murder—a Brad Shade hat trick. The Black Ace reunites us with our favourite, savvy fourth-liner, with plot twists, wisecracks, and an ending that could only come from G.B. Joyce.

Thanks to Shade’s work at the NHL draft last season, he gets to hold on to his job as scout for L.A.—at least for now. But a journeyman’s work is never done. Shade is checking out the talent in Regina with his old friend and teammate “Chief.” But when they learn of the suicide of an old teammate from their playing days in L.A., they take a sometimes violent detour through the dark side of a small town with no shortage of secrets it wants kept at almost any cost.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (March 12 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143187600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143187608
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #365,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The Black Ace is pure mystery and suspense, with great characters and a well-designed plot. Brad Shade is ready for a long run." - The Globe and Mail

"Hockey meets pulp fiction." - Toronto Star

“Hockey fan or not, this funny, smart and briskly-paced tale of small-town villainy by this Toronto sportswriter will grab you.” - Winnipeg Free Press --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

G.B. Joyce is a feature writer and editor with Sportsnet magazine. He has written for ESPN the Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and the Ottawa Citizen, and has won four National Magazine Awards. Joyce is the author of eight books.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good sports mystery Nov. 18 2013
By Neal C. Reynolds - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Brad Shade has become a quite acceptible hero. He's savvy and wise-cracking enough to be good company, yet sleazy enough to make one a but uneasy. This will satisfy sports fans and mystery fans alike. There are the plot twists one would expect, and overall enjoyment of skilled writing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurry home early, hurry on home Aug. 31 2014
By Aaron C. Brown - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This review is from: The Black Ace (Brad Shade) (Paperback)
Brad Shade's lacing up, at the Swift Current Dome

First off, this is going to remind no one of either Dashiell Hammett or Elmore Leonard. I expect that kind of random boasting from the publisher, but this comparison on the front cover was from a newspaper reviewer. If you like comparisons, the book starts out slow and you're thinking maybe Robert Parker trying his hand at a Myron Bolitar mystery/thriller. But you soon realize that's a little off, the wisecracks aren't said aloud, and are bitter rather than defiant, always directed as much at the protagonist as anything else. They story-telling is off-kilter as well, lacking the conventional linear drive. When the author kicks it up about a quarter of the way through, you might get excited and think this is the next Ross Macdonald. But soon after you realize the twisted tale is just getting started and Gare Joyce is skating his own way to produce a great mystery novel, one of the best I have read in years.

The Black Ace blends two outstanding elements. First is the miswired protagonist. He feels shame when he should feel guilt, guilt when he should feel pride and pride when he should feel shame. He is bitter toward everything he needs, and acts as if that combination somehow adds up to love. But it all makes sense. You don't like him or dislike him, he just seems real. The victim in the story is his antithesis, and the resulting synthesis results in a tremendously satisfying story.

The second outstanding element is the author's masterful and original style. At first the book seems overwritten, with two lines of embellishment for every straightforward line of plot or dialog. It mixes first-person and third-person voice. They are mixed, not just alternated, sometimes the protagonist makes reference to things we know about from the omniscient narrator, things the protagonist shouldn't know. At other times he fails to tell us important details that he does know, important enough that leaving them out is deceptive. The most spectacular chapters in the book, the ones that blow the reader away, are in a kind of anonymous-person voice. The book has the most natural and effective use of ambiguous person description since Lawrence Sanders. It merges introspection, action, dialog, flashback and foreshadowing in complex, multi-layered accounts, like building a myth out of the most seedy and vulgar ingredients.

There are a lot of flaws in the book, but they just don't matter. The plot was bought at knock-down auction from the second season of Veronica Mars after that show was cancelled. Too much of it is explained by a guy who guarded the secrets rigorously at great cost for decades, then opens up for no particular reason to a stranger. The book is filled with loose ends (the suicide car is playing both the radio and the cassette deck at the same time, a biker has a limp prominently mentioned twice but never explained, and so on) while other ends are tied off implausibly in one-off explanations unrelated to the plot. The Native American sidekick is far too passive and indirect, and his mild psychic abilities are a clichéd distraction. The book spends a lot of effort at setting scenes, but once set, the background is forgotten. The biggest example is constant references to cold, wind and personal physical discomfort; but the author never makes it feel real. There is a superficial description, but no depth or detail to make it more than just words. The final resolution is neither satisfying nor effectively unsatisfying, just meh. But, as I said, the glorious writing and arresting protagonist hurdle over such minor quibbles like Bobby Orr winning scoring titles playing the blue line.

I recommend this book most highly. I have not read the first book in the series, nor any of the author's other books, but I'm going to get started right away.
3.0 out of 5 stars The Worst Hockey Games Are the Dull Ones July 28 2014
By Rick Mitchell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I know hockey and am a mild fan, but I don't think even a great fan would love this book. The main character, Brad Shade, is a former player for the LA Kings who is now scouting. Hockey is in the background (with random yarns of other former players thrown in randomly), but is not a major theme. The mystery is just ok. There is very little "investigation" besides the theft of a diary. There is lots of driving and fights, seemingly without cause. Brad brings another player along (Chief) and his only purpose seems to be to win the fights and be put out of his way by Brad.

The best character is the murder victim who is found dead in the first few pages. Unfortunately, he does not say much. Brad Shade is a character I just could not figure out. On the one hand he tries to be the hard-oiled P.I. On the other, he philosophizes unmercifully. He doesn't want to be a womanizer, but beds 'em easily. This is in the first person and Brad drones.

My biggest criticism of the book - which I enjoyed for more than the first half - is that it really dragged towards the end. It came to a resounding halt with about thirty pages to go. Then, of course, it wrapped up in two with a fairly unsatisfying ending.

There are great mystery writers out there. Too many good ones to spend time on this mediocre one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great new author, cool noir style Aug. 18 2014
By Luckyclucker - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This book was tough for the first 30 pages or so (lots of hockey references that were obscure to me, the non fan) but I'm so glad I stuck with it.

The author writes like the 'old masters' of the gumshoe genre but somehow makes it his very own. Brad Shade is the perfect blend of cool, but also a screw up in plenty of ways that make him very endearing by the end of the book.

I thought the story was fine, even though things tended to be a bit transparent by the end of the book (earlier, actually) but it doesn't matter because 'Shadow' and 'Chief' are so entertaining.

LOVE Shadow's internal monologue and there is enough mystery left for the reader that I want to read more about him -- I'm going to grab the first book in the series, which hopefully will explain his disastrous Hollywood ex-wife.

Anyhow, this was a great book that I am recommending to anyone who likes detective novels of the old style (not mass murdering psychopaths, more slow potboiler types).
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Knows What Evil Lurks ... the Shade-O Knows! Oct. 10 2013
By Timothy J. Mccarthy - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Brad Shade is a man of many talents, but more than a few limitations. A near-star hockey player, he retired from the game with one good knee remaining and took up scouting for the NHL's L.A. franchise. He's pretty good at it, but because of some recent management changes, his job security is iffy. He's studied criminology though, and has done a bit of detective work, with a little help from his dad who's a retired police sergeant, so he does have options. While scouting in Regina (that's up on the chilly plains of Saskatchewan, eh?), he learns that an old teammate has just committed suicide in a small town just four hours away. He would have taken a pass, but with his girlfriend pointing out his problems with commitment issues and not supporting old friends, he decides to look in on the widow. Before long he finds that all is not as it seems in sleepy little Swift Current, which is a decidedly unfriendly kind of place.

This is the second in the Brad Shade series, but while it could have stood a tad more back-story, it works fine as a stand-alone novel. Shade is a curious fellow, who is clever and witty enough that you want to like him, but sleazy and arrogant enough to make you reconsider. That tantalizing dichotomy is nicely balanced and adds some depth to the story. This isn't as sophisticated and complex as some thrillers, but there are several layers to peel back, which suits Shade's reluctant hero style.

You don't have to be a hockey fan to enjoy the book, but it does help. Most denizens of the Lower 48 have no comprehension of what a huge part hockey plays in small town Canada; it makes high school football in rural Texas look like a passing fancy. This story brings some of that to life and brings the book up a level.

If you're not well versed in Canadiana, then reading this book will be a little like reading an English novel, and some references and colloquialisms might slip past you. (e.g. "Enjoying a Canadian" is not a sensual reference, but indicates what brand of beer you're drinking.) But it's a lot of fun and pretty fast moving, and will probably hook you on the Shade series for life.

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