Saturday 01 Oct 2016

Crashed
Jennifer Ramirez

"Crashed," by Timothy Hallinan, is the first book in a series featuring Junior Bender, a well-known burglar, who in this story doesn’t only have to steal but also investigate a crime in the making.


"Crashed," the first  novel in the new series from the author of the "Simeon Grist Mysteries" and the "Poke Rafferty Bangkok" Thrillers, introduces Junior Bender, a top-of-the-line burglar who also works as a private eye - for crooks. When a criminal gets ripped off by a criminal, Junior is the guy who gets hired.  Junior Bender is a Los Angeles burglar with a magic touch. Since he first started breaking into houses when he was fourteen years old, he’s never once been caught. But now, after 22 years of an exemplary career, he has been blackmailed by Trey Annunziato, one of the most powerful crime bosses in LA, into acting as a private investigator on the set of Trey’s porn movie venture, which someone keeps sabotaging.

The star Trey has lined up to do all that’s unwholesome on camera is Thistle Downing, America’s beloved child star, who now lives alone in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable. Her starring role will be the scandalous fall-from-grace gossip of rubber-neckers across the country. No wonder Trey needs help keeping the production on track. But this novel is not only about some burglar, a mystery, and bits and pieces of almost choreographed action; it’s also about the showbiz.

Junior’s most recent assignment has him stealing a painting from a hard-to-enter home, but he finds a safe containing diamonds while he’s in there which delays his exit. These extra few minutes give the big dogs out back a chance to get inside and launch an attack. Junior’s escape looks like an action scene on the big screen that involves a sedative and a chandelier, and he manages to get out of the house with only cuts and bruises only to find himself in a worse situation: a crooked cop has a gun to his head.

The first chapter is hillarious and really drags you into the story. From that point on there are regular twists and turns. Just when you think you have a handle on things something changes. By the end you are reading frantically trying to see how Junior pulls it all off. The other thing that makes it fun is all the side characters and their interaction with Junior and the plot. Just as Hallinan takes you on a tour of Bangkok and Thailand with his Poke Rafferty series, he uses Junior to paint a picture of a certain side of LA and Hollywood.

Saying Tim Hallinan is a master at storyline, characterization and pitch-perfect dialogue is a serious understatement. In the hands of Hallinan’s talent, Junior’s character stands out through, and you want him to find a way to make everything work out right. Thistle hasn’t had an easy life, but she’s got sass and spunk along with her drug dependence. Hallinan introduces a bevy of eclectic supporting cast members too, including Doc, a now-unlicensed physician whose personal mission is to help Thistle get clean and Trey Annunziato, a mob boss who is producing the film and many believe had her own father killed.

"Crashed" brings together severe issues and laugh-out-loud humor while remaining true to the mystery form. The plot contains enough twists to keep the reader guessing, and it’s a toss-up if you want to race to the end to see what happens or just savor the journey of getting there because you can only read a fantastic book for the first time once.

"Crashed" turned out to be a fun fast paced mystery with the typical Hallinan humor and style. A lead character who while outside the law and normal cultural mores has his own powerful sense of right and wrong - and a fierce determination to go his own way. I thoroughly enjoyed "Crashed". Those of you who are fans of the " Simeon Grist" and "Poke Rafferty"  series by Hallinan will find "Crashed" to be pretty different from those books but equally enjoyable.

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Click on title, below, to read a review of other books by Timothy Hallinan

The Fear Artist, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Fourth Watcher, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Breathing Water, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Nail Through the Heart, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Queen of Patpong, a Poke Rafferty thriller set in Bangkok.

Jennifer Ramirez, known as Jenny, has reviewed and edited for 5+ years. Originally from Toronto, she grew up performing and competing in rhythmic gymnastics. Jenny enjoys reviewing movies, books and music albums. She describes herself as funny and righteous, with a 'go that extra mile' attitude. Her philosophy is quite simple: try to live life to the fullest Jenny writes that hr passion is books. She reads and reviews current and back-list literary fiction, crime fiction, thrillers, occasionally science fiction, and narrative nonfiction. She also loves music. She's a huge fan of The Maine and All Time Low! Joy is her favorite word and creativity is something she can't live without.

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