Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crashed by Timothy Hallinan (4/5 stars)

My favorite mystery authors have been dying off, one by one. With the demises of Donald Westlake and Robert B Parker, I was fearful of finding a decent story, told with intelligence and humor. But thanks to Nancy Pearl's recommendations NPR for books under the radar, I've discovered Hallinan, and his Junior Bender, and am a happy girl.

This is apparently the first in a newish series for Hallinan. (I've got the second requested at CCPL, and just saw that another one is due out any moment. Bender (whose first name is actually "Junior" . His father was a junior, but despised the name so much that he didn't want to saddle his son with it, so just gave him the Junior bit) is a burglar. And he's smart. He's been doing his craft since he was fourteen, and hasn't been caught yet. But, he's in for a bit of a tough time when he basically  blackmailed to work for one of LA's crime bosses. There's trouble on a movie set for a film the boss is producing and Bender is put in charge of keeping things straight and getting the job jobbed.

Only problem is, it's a porn movie that is to star a former child actress/American sweetheart, currently down, out, drugged, and on a pretty impressive downward slide. And it turns out that Junior has a heavy dose of compassion in his make-up, as well as brains.

The writing and dialog is good, filled with amusing bits. The twists and solutions Junior comes up with were also amusing. Junior is unashamed that he's a burglar, sees some benefits in a work schedule that keeps him pretty free most of the month, and lives mostly out of hotel rooms since his marriage ended. He has a good relationship with his young daughter. He reads a lot, and has pretty much charted a educational course that is probably better than what most undergrads get at a majority of universities. He's a self-made burglar, and comfortable in his own skin.

Looking forward to the next book with Junior.

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