Detectives Beyond Borders.
Recently, Eightball Boogie has become available on Kindle, and the author has also made the remaining print copies available for the mere cost of shipping and handling. As the true opposite of an early adopter, I of course sent off for a print copy. I knew it was an earlier work than The Big O, so expected it to be a more elementary type of the same thing. Much to my surprise and delight, I was largely wrong.
Oh, and one more thing to keep Harry on his toes. Denise informs him before she shoos him out the door that Gonzo's coming back. Who's Gonzo? Harry's, shall we say, 'no boundaries' brother, absent these four years.
To make matters a bit more complicated, a shady seeming car auctioneer named Dave Conway shows up at Harry's office, wanting him to find out the dirt on his wife, Helen. Why? So Conway can "break her fucking neck". (It's right about here that I should probably warn you that this isn't a cozy.)
So now Mr. Burke has all the plates spinning, and it's just as much a matter of suspense whether he can keep them all up in the air as to whether Harry can solve Imelda's murder, find out what's going on with Dave's tigress of a wife, and most importantly, deliver's Ben's present in time for Christmas. I'll give you a hint by saying that Declan Burke is an excellent plate spinner, and in fact there is only one character who I thought came into and disappeared from the story without a trace. (Yeah, read the book and see if you can spot it, or if you even agree with me.)
I've seen the quibble in various reviews that maybe Harry gets beaten up a few too many times, not to mention shot at, but I have to say that I didn't really care about that. It's an old trope in crime fiction, and Harry's not the nicest guy in the world, and probably deserves his licks. There was one scene in the book that I found a bit too excruciating, but it is very brief, so don't let that scare you off.
What I really want to talk about now that I've given you some idea of the premise is the inventiveness of the prose. Emulating a master like Chandler is a risky thing and you not only have to have guts, you've got to have a gift. And Burke's got it.Everyone's going to have their favorite line or ten by the time they get through with this one.
Here's a throwaway, bearing on the plot not at all, but terrific:
"It was Christmas week and the town belonged to the farmers. They lumbered up and down the streets, sailors on shore leave, grim and determined. Parcels stacked in elastic arms, necks craning around the piles. Tinny hymns drifted out of shop doorways. High above the streets the coloured lights danced a hangman's jib on the breeze."
99 cents, people. 99 cents. Or check out the print book offer (while supplies last) HERE.
Not convinced? Think you're somehow going to buy a cup of coffee with that instead? Well, take a look at one of his Digested Reads (which I wish he'd do more of) and think again.
(I'm editing this to add another interesting perspective on this book.)