One Bite at a Time




Monday, October 6, 2014

Crime Always Pays

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: Declan Burke is a friend of mine, among the first I made as a writer. He and Charlie Stella are the two people most responsible for getting me published. Charlie, because he made Stark House an offer they couldn’t refuse; Declan because he talked me out of quitting before Grind Joint had even been written. So, yes, I may be pre-disposed to like anything he writes. A quick look at any reputable dictionary will show you “pre-disposed to like anything he writes” does not mean laughing out loud so often The Beloved Spouse asked me to read whatever it was I just read to her, because she couldn’t focus on anything else until I calmed down.

His newest, Crime Always Pays, is a sequel to 2008’s The Big O. Crime Always Pays was written more or less immediately afterward. In an episode of the publishing industry having its collective head even farther up its collective ass than usual, CAP was finally released this year by Severn House, who deserve full marks for seeing what others missed. (The April 1 U.K. release date was inspired, given the characters and tone of the book.)

The cast is what matters here. There’s Karen, abused by her father, broke her own jaw to seal the deal on his conviction. She pulled armed robberies with a gun and Ducati motorcycle she was holding onto for Rossi while he was inside. Oh, and €60,000, which he was kind of hoping to get back, but she spent it boarding…

Anna, a three-quarters wolf, one-quarter Husky mix with an eye patch because Rossi gouged one out. When last seen in The Big O, Anna was chewing the head off of…

Rossi, an Irish orphan who fancies himself half-Sicilian. What he wants most is his gun, Ducati, and 60 Gs back from Karen, but after coming onto a kidnapping plot that ended with him holding 200 Gs before the wolf tried to eat his head, he’d like a taste of that, too, though he has to be careful, because he shot…

Ray, who would surely be played by George Clooney in the movie. Ray remains perpetually cool while chasing across Europe and the Greek islands with a cast on his arm where Rossi shot him, wondering on which side the cop…

Doyle will come down. She’s suspended because, even though she foiled the kidnapping, she didn’t get the money, and let just about everyone get away. Oh, and she was there when the kidnap victim…

Madge, shot her husband, who had her kidnapped as part of an insurance scam. Madge may be Rossi’s birth mother, or not. She’s trying to stay out of jail for shooting her hubby, but wouldn’t mind a taste of that loose 200 grand herself, and—oh, I almost forgot—is tight with Karen, who somehow wound up in the original kidnapping plot. Madge and Karen had previously booked a cruise that may now come in handy as part of their getaway plan, until Rossi figures it out and gets in touch with…

Melody, the travel agent who wants to be a movie producer and sees a story unfolding in front of her that’s way better than anything she could come up with, and holds Madge’s and Karen’s final destinations a secret from Rossi so he has to bring her along, where she starts to fall for…

Sleeps, the narcoleptic getaway driver, and my personal favorite character.

That’s all you get from me. The story reminds me a bit of the classic Sixties comedy It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, or what might have happened if Donald Westlake left behind an outline for Elmore Leonard.

In the Author’s Notes, Burke writes:

Crime Always Pays is fiction, and takes place in a parallel universe that largely mimics the rules—gravity, etc.—of the world we are all familiar with. It is, however, a world that differs in some respects to our own, including the basic geography of some Cycladic Greek islands, the prevalence of coincidence, and the improbability of happy endings. To those readers offended by the taking of such liberties, I sincerely apologize.


There’s one more way Crime Always Pays differs from our world: real life is never, ever, this much fun.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is on my kindle and I hope to read it soon.