The Gypsy Queen Reviews

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite   5 Stars

It’s not always the magnitude of the crisis that makes a novel great, but how it is handled and Paul Shadinger shows incredible skill in conflict development in this novel. The first book I read from this author was Code Name: Crescent and, seduced by the writing, I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on other books by him. So, I picked up The Gypsy Queen and it has been a great delight, a masterly entry in the Matt Preston novels. Again, helping one of his friends from the poker game, he quickly discovers that he is in a dangerous game and will have to fight to stay alive while pursuing a notorious international hacker simply known as the Gypsy Queen. Can Matt’s undercover skills and military background help him this time?

The Gypsy Queen is one of those rare books I have had to read nonstop, thanks to the author’s unique and clear narrative voice. It is compelling and it rings with originality. The second thing that captivated me was the deft handling of character. The protagonist is a very interesting character, a man with a disturbing penchant for poker, a lover, and a very gifted investigator. He isn’t perfect; he is flawed in many ways and readers will find him very intriguing and genuine. While the characters are compelling, this novel focuses on plot and the author succeeds in handling the conflict in a way that contributes to the pacing and keeps the reader’s interest. This novel is engaging, and Paul Shadinger makes the reading experience even more enjoyable by imbuing the work with great humor.

Christian Sia   5 Stars

Another compelling Matt Preston novel, The Gypsy Queen by Paul Shadinger is a rollicking ride in the genre of crime fiction. The protagonist, ex-undercover operative Matt Preston, is keen to help his friend from the card game accomplish a mission which may require his old skills. In this spellbinding crime novel, Matt is out to locate a cunning international hacker known as the Gypsy Queen. He has to make use of his uncover experience, but can he survive the life-threatening challenges that are stacked against him?

We are introduced to the protagonist right off the bat and he is in bad shape, still stricken by the sudden death of David, one of their friends at the poker game. Readers get to know that Matt is a womanizer and that he loves poker. But the request that Ralph asks of him opens up an exploration into Matt’s background and the stuff he can do, like finding missing people and other skills. Ralph wants him to find someone. From this point on, the conflict grows with the mystery and readers will enjoy the background that comes along with it, allowing them to get a complete image of the personality of the protagonist.

The themes of cyber crime, romance, and sleuthing are seamlessly woven into the narrative fabric. I also enjoyed Matt’s group of friends, buddies united by one thing: poker. The plot is fast-paced and it is intelligently done. The dialogues are great and plot-driven and they offer real great insights into character development. The first person narrative voice is as strong as in other Paul Shadinger novels. You’ll find humor at its best and suspense that keeps you turning the pages. The Gypsy Queen is a great achievement and a work of huge entertainment.

Lit Amri    4 Stars

The Gypsy Queen (A Matt Preston Novel, Volume 3) by Paul Shadinger starts off with Matt’s usual poker night. One of the regulars, Ralph, comes up to Matt for help. He met a woman named Melissa at a software seminar six months prior and he’s completely enamored with her, but she has disappeared. Ralph also used her ideas for his company’s new software game, and he doesn’t want to end up getting sued in the end. Ralph’s begging leads to Matt’s agreement, although he’s suspicious and has a bad feeling about the job. His suspicion proves to be true, as Melissa is an internationally known hacker dubbed The Gypsy Queen, and Matt is not the only one who’s looking for her.

Since this is already the third book of the series, I expected to miss some depth of the protagonist and other characters’ backgrounds. That said, I don’t feel that I missed much detail, and The Gypsy Queen is sufficient as a standalone. Some parts of the dialogue could be more concise, but the writing and the pace are good, and the narrative draws you in. There are several mysterious and dangerous events happening to Matt, so waiting for these events to connect to one another or see how they will influence the plot was interesting. With a good balance of gritty moments and humor, Shadinger’s The Gypsy Queen is a solid read and explores its themes and concept satisfyingly for fans of the genre.

BookLife Prize - 2018

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10

Originality: 8 out of 10

Prose: 6 out of 10

Character/Execution: 7 out of 10

Overall: 7.25 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: An unwilling private detective embarks on a dangerous search for a mysterious mastermind in an eventful and plucky narrative.

Prose: Shadinger writes in a clipped, casual, and unvarnished prose style. Sharp dialogue carries weight within the development of the story, while the narrator’s voice offers a contemporary, hardboiled tenor.

Originality: While Shadinger utilizes familiar mystery genre tropes, the author invigorates his story with distinctive storytelling and humor.

Character Development: Witty monikers assigned to Shadinger’s cast of characters amplify their personalities. His living characters are vibrant, tart, and youthful, whereas the deceased characters still possess very influential roles in the storyline.

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