REVIEW: JD Mader’s ‘Joe Café’

200x300Joe Café centres on the kidnapping of lap dancer Sara by psychotic killer Chet Mooney. While her boyfriend and the police look for them, the novel hones in on the private hell the dancer is going through at the hands of a man who is intent on purging his hatred on her.

The narrative voice is strong from the outset:

‘Joe Café opened in 1969 with no fanfare. It was a small-fronted diner. The kind of place that looks old for no discernible reason, dirty though it is impeccably clean.’

Stylistically the novel is both elegant and dark, moving between evocative descriptive passages and sharp edge dialogue. Using flashbacks it gets you inside the killer’s head and Mader cleverly manages to allow you to see the reasons Chet Mooney has ended up this way. This is one of the strengths of Joe Café, it digs behind the behaviour of the characters and gets beneath the skin. In its thematic darkness and narrative style Joe Café is a Noir novel and a fine one at that.

Mader has also structured his first novel brilliantly, moving with ease between the different perspectives of the characters. After the first chapter it is extremely hard to put down. You are pulled into the maelstrom of events sparked off by the abduction. Mader has a native elegance to his prose that offsets the more disturbing aspects of the novel.
The descriptions of being held captive and the physicality of the experience are powerfully told:

‘The hardest part is mental. We get used to having stimuli pounding into our brains. We get used to traffic and billboards and radio cures for baldness. Being in a dark room, tied to a chair, is an agony few experience.’

Sara’s imprisonment is the physical centre of the narrative as attempts to rescue her are made.

This is a sharply written highly readable novel that takes you to the dark side, I highly recommend it.

300x225JD Mader is a writer, teacher, and musician who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. ‘Joe Café’ is his first self published novel. He also writes short stories. Much of his work is available for free at His musical endeavors are also available for free download at and bandcamp…”The Flying Black Hats” – music recorded with longtime friend and accomplice Pat Patsie.

He likes fishing, motorcycles, and literature…not necessarily in that order…and if this was meant to be written in the first person, he is embarrassed.

Other Mader links
‘Joe Café’ by JD Mader – $1.34 at
‘Joe Café’ by JD Mader – £0.86 at
Facebook – JD Mader, Writer
Twitter – @jd_mader

13 Responses to REVIEW: JD Mader’s ‘Joe Café’

  1. Wow–that cover is really something. I couldn’t look at it. I couldn’t stop looking at it. Thanks for the review.

  2. AJ Hayes says:

    I second the great cover thought. Another one for d/l this morning. Thoughtful, clear review, Richard. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. JD Mader says:

    Much thanks for the brilliant review. It is appreciated.

    Jenny, AJ, thanks for the comments on the cover. My wife is a photographer and she is responsible (with some nattering from me) for the cover shot. I will pass on your kind words. I hope you read and enjoy the book. You can reach me on Facebook or through my website.

    Thanks all!

  4. Miss Alister says:

    The cover’s critical to catch the reader’s attention (thank you Mrs. Mader). The first couple of paragraphs are critical to draw the sale (thanks Mr. Mader). “Joe Café merely appeared and, within a week, it was as if it had always been there,” and so on and now it’s on my Kindle as if it’s always been there. I look forward to the “elegant and dark, moving between evocative descriptive passages and sharp edge dialogue” (Grazie mille Mr. Godwin). This is a sure thing : )

    • JD Mader says:

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you are going to read the book. Please let me know what you think of it. This is the second cover, incidentally, the first was not nearly as good (it didn’t match the book). I left it in for sentimental reasons, so if you page back enough on your Kindle you can see it. 😉

      I appreciate your comment very much and look forward to seeing if you agree with Richard. 😉

      • Miss Alister says:

        I agree – the font, background, and butt of the pocketknife is artsy but more needs to be conveyed. And even if this wasn’t Joe Café, café and diner imagery screams Noir so irresistibly I always think!

        Of course I’d be pleased give you my take on Joe Café – it’s nice you mentioned wanting to know!

  5. I agree with Richard – at least about the portion I have already read of this novel. At the moment, I am reading in dentists’ waiting rooms, so it’s necessarily in snatches. Go, Dan!

  6. Love this concept and the cover is absolutely stunning! Thanks for the heads-up, Richard. 🙂

    • JD Mader says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Carrie! If you read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I am reachable through FB, my website, carrier pigeons, etc.

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