From Publishers Weekly
While Irish author Burke (Eight-ball Boogie
) has been compared to Elmore Leonard, this effort falls short of Leonard's superior blending of crime and dark humor. The impending parole of violent armed robber Rossi Francis Assisi Callaghan sets in motion a cascading series of events. Callaghan's ex-wife, Karen King, herself a thief, fears he'll come after her, and seeks to get herself some insurance in the form of professional kidnapper Ray Brogan. Ray, in turn, is hired to abduct Karen's friend, Madge Dolan, by her husband, Frank, a plastic surgeon who wants to cash in a lucrative insurance policy. The waters are further muddied by questions about Callaghan's parentage and the introduction of a vicious, half-blind dog named Stalin. The broadly drawn figures and situations are clearly not intended to be taken seriously, but the absence of any character a reader is likely to sympathize with is a significant drawback. (Sept.)
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Frank is a self-important but inept plastic surgeon who wants to have his ex-wife, Madge, snatched so that he can collect a half-million in ransom. Frank’s receptionist, Karen, commits armed robberies using her former lover’s Ducati motorcycle and .44 magnum pistol; Karen, unbeknownst to Frank, is best friends with Madge; still, she agrees to help with the kidnapping, though she knows Rossi (the former lover) is about to get out of prison and will be returning to collect his cycle and gun. She also knows that Rossi is as mean as a “piss-soaked snake.” For the kidnapper, Madge picks Ray, a guy she met during one of her robberies and who impressed her with his style. These schemers swirl around in a kind of novelistic Brownian motion (particles moving randomly while suspended in a liquid), colliding with each other during the week preceding the snatch. Burke has married hard-boiled crime with noir sensibility and seasoned it with humor and crackling dialogue. Credulity is strained throughout, but fans of comic noir will find plenty to enjoy here. --Thomas Gaughan