Title: The Run Begins
Author: J. Frank James
2013 – Fiction – Crime Fiction
The Story: Before Lou Malloy serves 15 years in prison for a casino heist, before his sister is murdered, before he returns to take his revenge, he was your average teenage boy looking for a way out of his small town in Kansas. After a chance encounter with a man by the name of Henry Lowe, Malloy hops a train to Atlanta and beyond, looking for big money and a big adventure.
The Opening Line: “What are you thinking about, Louie?” asked Sam.
Thoughts: In Dead Money Run, Lou Malloy is newly released from prison and seeking answers and revenge over his sister’s murder. The Run Begins is a prequel novella that chronicles Malloy’s entry into crime and the circumstances surrounding his foiled heist of the mob-owned casino. Short and sweet, it provides Lou and family with a backstory that provides a lot of answers regarding the events in Dead Money Run. For instance, we learn why Sam went to California, how Susan ended up in Florida, and why Lou and his parents are on the outs. We also learn how Lou meets Henry Lowe and gets involved with the plan to rob the casino.
I’m a big fan of backstory, so I enjoyed reading this novella. Backstory tends to fill in gaps and make characters more plausible and dynamic. You can often learn a character’s motives or desires, as well as get a glimpse at other characters that may not be main characters in another entry to the series. The Run Begins does a good job fulfilling each of these. It also does a great job of setting up the rest of the series by clearly explaining the details of the heist and leaving the story hanging as Lou and gang leap into action.
If you like crime novels, are interested in the workings of mob-owned and operated businesses, or are just looking for something that is action-packed and revenge driven, the Lou Malloy series fits the bill. I would personally start with this prequel, for content into the next book, although like many prequels it can be read at any time.