From Publishers Weekly
The third novel from Davies (Goodbye Lemon
; The Frog King
) is a hilarious caper narrated by down-on-his-luck good guy Otto Starks. Having worked his entire life to become a top-notch pulse (highly specialized security guard), Otto falls from grace when several of the works of art under his watch are stolen by the Rat Burglar. Otto, who pops toxic pills in an effort to build immunity to paralyzing and lethal substances, starts to look like an accomplice when he repeatedly fails to apprehend the thief. Also grinding at Otto is his torment at keeping his job a secret from Charlie Izzo, the woman he loves but is too afraid to propose to. Charlie is as smart as she is beautiful, but to Otto's dismay, she praises the Rat Burglar, whose m.o. is to steal back plundered masterpieces and return them to their original owners. After the Rat Burglar steals a secret map to a massive plundered treasure, Otto's compartmentalized worlds collide. Otto's narration is biting and bitter, but also charming. Parts are laugh-out-loud funny, and there's enough suspense to keep readers riveted throughout this svelte page-turner. (Aug.)
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*Starred Review* Know why Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible trapeze act wouldn’t work in real life? Because a hyperspecialized security guard—a “pulse”—would have already been inside the vault, patiently waiting to push the panic button. At least, that’s the premise of Davies’ fantastically imagined novel, set in a world where people with things to protect don’t rely on technology that can be subverted by airshaft egress or clipped green wires. Otto Starks is a pulse whose ability is off the charts but whose recent track record has him heading toward termination. Why does the Rat Burglar keep getting the drop on him? And why can’t he pop the question to Charlie Izzo, the love of his life? And what will happen if he can’t make the loan-shark payments on his boat, the Clean Getaway? In a novel that is equal parts comic monologue, screwball romance, and crime story, Davies employs clichéd suspense devices with results that are wholly original. If we’re mildly impatient when the plot mechanics take over, that’s only because we can’t get enough of Davies’ wonderful word-nerd writing, which scarcely needs a raison d’être. Our own words can’t do this cartoonish but touching novel justice—you’ll have to read it for yourself. --Keir Graff