on June 6, 2009
Russian Roulette was the first book of the Hannibal Jones series that I have read. I enjoyed the book and want to read others in the series to see if the quirky hero is true throughout the series. I was bothered by Hannibal's tendency to rush from one scene to the next. I felt that when Hannibal was interrupted by a phone call, while questioning someone, that he abruptly left - left me wondering why he didn't finished what he started before moving on to the next clue? Just like my real-life friends, Hannibal doesn't always catch the obvious. In many respects, this character flaw makes Hannibal more human, and therefore believable. I found his behavior frustrating sometimes, but then I still like him.
The book is set in the Washington DC area and accurately reflects community. Well written, well researched and certainly worth the read!
on June 13, 2009
You can get your thrills driving through the Rock Creek rollercoaster section of the Washington Beltway during rush hour or you can read Russian Roulette, yarnmeister Austin Camacho's latest Hannibal Jones volume. Mr. Camacho spins his mystery threads so masterfully and tightly that soon after entering the world of this page-turner you are hopelessly wound up in Toubleshooter Jones' latest caper. How does the Russian assassin find and convince Jones to take what appears to be a dead-end assignment? Ride with Hannibal through the streets and suburbs of Washington, DC, and be prepared to be surprised - and thrilled.
- Fred Apelquist, "You're Entitled to My Opinion, A Balanced Point of View"
on September 5, 2009
I have been waiting for "Russian Roulette" for a long time. As the latest in the Hannibal Jones line, the story not only picks up where "Damaged Goods" left off, but expands and educates more into Mr. Jones' world. For those not in the know, Hannibal Jones is a private detective (or "Troubleshooter" according to his business cards) that lives in downtown DC. The character came into the District with a rich detailed history starting with his childhood in the US Army base in Berlin, to his days in the NYPD, and the Secret Service. There's his lawyer girlfriend, Cindy Santiago, her father, former taxi-driver turned owner of a chaffeur service, Ray Santiago, and the helping hands Sarge, Quaker and Virgil. What I left out could fill a book, or rather several books, which is the point. As a whole the Hannibal Jones series is intelligent without being condesending, gritty without being grungy, and thoughtful without being unctuous. I am definitely a fan.
The book starts en media rez with Hannibal protecting one of Ms. Santigo's clients from a company goon squad, but immediately switches over to another man pointing a gun at Hannibal's head. The man is Alexandr Ivanovich, hitman for the Russian Mob. He wants Hannibal to snoop around an Algerian man named Dani Gana, who is engaged to the woman Alexandr wants for himself, Viktoriya Petrova. If he doesn't, then Alexandr's own goon squad will kill Cindy. This starts off a puzzling investigation into Gana's life, Petrova's life, and the Russian Mob's sordid history in and out of the States. There's another PI looking into Gana's past, Cochran, because he has his own history with the Red Mafya, and circulating rumors that Alexandr killed Victoriya's father himself (the coroner said it was "a suicide"). That's what I liked the best about this plot. It keeps the reader guessing and just when I thought the answers were coming soon, there would be a new investigative monkey wrench in the works. And it all makes perfect sense! All the stories fit, all the rumors work, and all the monkey wrenches fit back into the toolbox.
The twists and turns only heighten the suspense and delve further into the underworld politics. This is where Camancho's work really shines. He reminds the reader that just because the Capital Dome is the nicest building in DC, it's not the only seat of power. The other Hannibal Jones mysteries hinted at the local underworld scene, but "Roulette" really lets it shine. I'll admit, the majority of my knowledge on the Mafia comes from one rough guidebook I own, the "Godfather" movies (yes I know there are books. I didn't read them. So sue me), and a few episodes of the Sopranos. I missed a week or two and I was just lost from there on in. I digress. Camancho knows politics, both legitimate and otherwise. His mafiosi and Zory z Zakone ("Thieves of the Code") aren't just brutish thugs and legbreakers. That is how Alexandr appears when he arrives, but Camancho quickly whacks that stereotype. They're movers, shakers, and manipulators, just as interested in respect and tradition as making concrete loafers. And just for the record, yes, Russians do say the full name of their superiors, first, middle and last. It's a cultural thing.
Only two tiny things tarnished this otherwise shining story. They're so small I feel silly for mentioning them, but they kept scratching on the back of my brain. First, when Hannibal went to Professor Krada's house, another Algerian, the man's wife served ham sandwiches. I have two Muslim friends, and Muslims don't eat pork. This was the kind of impurity that I kept rationalizing away. Maybe she kept it only for guests. Maybe they weren't the best Muslims in the world. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Next, Alexandr had an annoying habit of rifling through Hannibal's music collection. Not to discredit Hannibal's choice in music (The dude likes ACDC. Hell yeah), but writing the lyrics on the page often seems forced. Without any music it's impossible to sing along or appreciate it. I often skimmed through the exposed paragraphs and got right back to the plot and dialogue. Music is nigh impossible to replicate on the printed page.
Don't let those miniscule facts dissaude you. Don't let my fiendishly long review dissuade you. Go find "Russian Roulette," some good vodka, and brush up on your euphemisms for killing mafia thugs. "Roulette" belongs on every mystery, mafia, and Washington DC shelf out there.
on May 22, 2009
Austin S. Camacho spent years as a military news reporter for the American Forces Network. He now works as a public affairs specialist for the Defense Department. He is the author of four previous Hannibal Jones mysteries: THE TROUBLESHOOTER; COLLATERAL DAMAGE; DAMAGED GOODS; and BLOOD AND BONE. He currently lives in Springfield, Virginia.
Hannibal Jones, troubleshooter extraordinaire, has a new experience when a well known Russian assassin pays him a visit in his office and convinces Hannibal, at gunpoint, to take his case. It seems that the love of his life (assassins have hearts too) is about to marry a rich, sleazy, African businessman of dubious morals. Gee, what a choice...assassin or crook! At any rate, Jones gamely takes the case when the assassin convinces Hannibal that his own girlfriend, Cindy Santiago, is at risk should he fail:
"'...But why would I take your case? Do you really think you can force me to investigate at gunpoint? I could walk out that door and just keep going. Or, I could call the cops and let them come in here and yank you out. Why on earth would I invest any of my time and energy into helping you stalk this girl who doesn't appear to need help or to be interested in you at all?' Ivanovich's voice deepened and became a bit harder, as if he wanted to be very sure that Hannibal understood him clearly.
'Because, my arrogant friend, I have very competent associates watching Miss Cintia Santiago, associate at Baylor, Truman, and Ray and daughter of Reynaldo Santiago who lives upstairs from you. My associates are invisible, obedient, and deadly. If you fail to find the answers I need about Dani Gana, your beloved Cintia Santiago will die.'"
With that motivation Hannibal Jones swings into action, with the menacing Ivanovich invading not only his psyche, but his personal space and life. Jones is game, though, and picks his way through a complicated maze that centers around the Russia House. Camacho employs his usual rich layers of plot; fascinating characters; and plenty of action to keep the reader mesmerized in his latest Hannibal Jones installment
I may have to add Austin S. Camacho to my list of authors to follow and catch up on after reading his latest novel, Russian Roulette. I received the book for review before I left on vacation, and I would have been perfectly happy to have all of the Hannibal Jones series with me to read.
Jones is minding his own business, going along on his detective duties, when a new client shows up in his office... with a gun, an assignment, and a threat if Jones doesn't take the case. The client is a Russian assassin with contacts to the Russian Mafia. His love interest has decided to marry a person who purports to be a rich African businessman. The assassin isn't buying it, and wants Jones to see if this guy is really who he says he is. Jones has little choice, as *his* love interest might be hurt or killed if he doesn't take the job. But Jones quickly finds that very few of the players in this mystery are really who they appear to be. The African businessman has as many layers as an onion, the girl may have just as many layers and connections in her past, and the longer Jones digs, the more people start to turn up dead or missing. What starts out as an assignment he has to take turns into one that he can't put down until he figures out just who is who.
I enjoyed the character of Hannibal Jones much more than I expected. I probably would have gotten a bit more out of the book and character had I read some of the previous installments. For instance, there's a level of tension between Jones and his girlfriend Cindy Santiago. I'm pretty sure there's a back story that explains their love interest as well as the employer/employee relationship that appears to exist. But even without knowing that, the story was complete enough on its own. Plenty of mystery, suspense, and excitement to keep the pages turning.
Now all I have to do is track down the earlier installments to get caught up, and I'll be happy...
This is one of my new favorites. I completely enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and kept me interested from the start to the very end.
The main character, Hannibal, in this book is tough and gritty and yet he still seems like a real life person, not dime store novel detective. He is required, at gun point, to look into the fiancé of a Russian assassin girl friend. The old girl friend is marrying an African Businesman and the Russian believes all is not as it seems.
As Hannibal digs into the background and starts looking at the people surrounding the African businessman he learns so much is not what it seems.
This book is not without a touch of humor too. It is funny that the Russian stayed in Hannibal's office while Hannibal was off detecting and looking for answers to the questions the Russian had about this fiancé of his old girl friend.
Overall, it is an interesting book with many twists and turns. It kept me interested and I really enjoyed it.
on April 3, 2010
I met Austin Camacho at a local book signing in Fairfax Virginia. He introduced me to Hannibal Jones and his latest case "Russian Roulette". Mr. Camacho promised a "keep you guessing mystery" with action and intrigue, and he delivered.
I found this to be a very enjoyable book, the story is extremely well done and takes you on a fast paced adventure with strong characters, and suspense that builds to an action packed conclusion.
Hannibal Jones is an engaging character who comes to life with peeks into his relationships with his lady, his ride, his shades and his choice of fresh ground coffee.
For those familiar with the Washington, D.C metropolitan area, the local references add to the fun.
I will be ordering another in the series.