Junior Bender is back. Little Elvises, the second installment in Timothy Hallinan’s e-book only series, picks up where Crashed left off. Bender is in trouble not of his own making, squeezed by a cop who may not be bent but is certainly not ethical to help out the cop’s uncle, who may or may not be mobbed up.
Bender is a unique character, a professional burglar who serves as sort of a private investigator for the underworld. He can break into virtually anyplace. Not with high-tech gadgets that no self-respecting crook could afford in the real world. His wits will suffice. His solutions are ingenious, yet so simple that you’ll smack yourself in the forehead wondering why you didn’t think of it yourself.
As in Crashed, Little Elvises treads on tricky ground, a comedic novel with violence. The trick is not to make the violence itself seem laughable, but also not to dampen the humor. Hallinan avoids both with an ease that could make you forget how hard it is, had you not tried it yourself and failed dismally. (Yes, that would be me.)
Hallinan is one of the most diverse talents writing crime fiction today, as his most recent Poke Rafferty thriller, The Queen of Patpong, is up for an Anthony Award at this week’s Bouchercon. The Junior Bender books are nothing like the Rafferty series, yet both do what they do as well as any book written by soemone who specializes in one form or the other. Whichever direction Hallinan turns next, it will be worth waiting for. Fortunately you have have Little Elvises to hold you over till then.