A Junior Bender Mystery #5
Soho Crime, April 2016
A large, sprawling text. By turns, funny, intriguing, self-indulgent, long, meandering, plot-centric but character driven. The story is clever and overloaded with odd, interesting and often out-of control characters. As such, the book provides an interesting if skewed insider look at Hollywood and some of its more popular if lesser-known residents. First we have the principal driving force. Here, readers have a choice between Ronnie Bigelow, sexy, enigmatic, passionate, she of mysterious logically criminal past, and Junior Bender, a burglar of some reputation in Los Angeles. Junior is usually a contract thief, targeting homes and businesses for specific objects at the request of other criminals.
Fine. The project becomes dangerous almost from the start when a meticulously timed foray dumps Junior into a tag team aimed at deleting him with the aid of baseball bats. Junior escapes with the help of the aforementioned Bigelow, ivy covered walls and a crotchety neighbor. But the adventure isn’t over. A rollicking car chase involving one aging Toyota (Bender’s) against a fleet of modern high-powered vehicles (the bad guy) rolls over the Hollywood hills, endangering, at least momentarily, a high percentage of local and possibly innocent citizens.
Suffice it to say, everything works out in the end after a number of additional violent confrontations, some intense interpersonal connection and a lot of words, sarcastic, funny and largely enjoyable.
Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2016.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.