- Series: A Junior Bender Mystery (Book 4)
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Soho Crime; First Edition edition (July 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616954299
- ISBN-13: 978-1616954291
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 84 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,344,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Herbie's Game (A Junior Bender Mystery) Hardcover – July 15, 2014
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Hallinan’s fifth Junior Bender mystery will once again bring smiles to the faces of all who love comic crime and crook-heroes. This time, though, there may be a tear or two as well, what with Junior confronting the realization that his mentor in the thieving arts, Herbie Mott, may not have been the stand-up crook Junior assumed he was. When not actively stealing something, Junior moonlights as an unofficial PI, solving crimes for criminals who can’t go to the police. But after Herbie is killed in a particularly gruesome fashion, Junior is working strictly pro bono. Herbie’s isn’t the only body, either, as someone is eliminating all the people linked in a chain connecting a hit man to the broker who organized the hit. Junior needs plenty of help to sort it all out, and he gets it from unlikely sources, including two 14-year-old computer wizards. (When Junior notes that he wasn’t expecting Campfire Girls as colleagues, one of them responds, “I could outthink you with my frontal lobe running Windows Vista.”) A whirligig of a caper delivered with plenty of melancholy-tinged laughs—Junior, drop by anytime. The valuables will be in plain sight. --Bill Ott
Praise for Herbie's Game
Finalist for the Nero Award
Winner of the 2015 Lefty Award
A Philadelphia Inquirer Best Book of 2014
August 2014 Indie Next List
"Junior Bender is on the case, wisecracking as always."
—Los Angeles Times
"[A] smart, cynical comic mystery . . . the best burglar in Los Angeles."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"If mysteries, thrillers, or just plain dark reads are your thing, then you'll love this summer's crop of twisty-turny heart-pounders . . . Junior Bender, the criminal who does detective work for other criminals, returns for a fourth hard-boiled mystery."
"Donald E. Westlake, the casually brilliant master of the comic caper, may be pushing up daisies, but his spirit clearly lives on in Timothy Hallinan. Herbie’s Game is swift, sure-footed and awfully funny."
—The Seattle Times
"Crackles with cleverness."
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"With complex characters, spicy dialogue, clever plot devices and a liberal dose of humor—as is always the case with Hallinan—Herbie's Game is a fine read."
"Amiable burglar Junior Bender is forced to chase down a stolen list of names before everyone on it ends up dead. First to fall is Junior's mentor and surrogate father, Herbie, who stole the list in the first place. This delightful mystery poses the question: Do we ever really know the people we love, and do we need to know everything in order to love them?"
"The clown prince of crime fiction."
"The most satisfying installment of the series to date . . . Bender’s Los Angeles is laid out in full, splendid view, warts and all."
"The ultimate summer beach reading—as funny as the best of Carl Hiaasen, but with the kinds of puzzling mysteries and plot surprises of the best of Agatha Christie."
—The Brooklyn Daily
"A perfect read for a nice afternoon at the beach."
—Gulf News Today
"Excellent . . . Chandler's Los Angeles gets a facelift to bring it into modern times, but the humor and setting are the same. And like Chandler, Hallinan is razor-sharp on the page."
"A laconic antihero to admire."
"A whirligig of a caper . . . Junior, drop by anytime. The valuables will be in plain sight."
—Bill Ott, Booklist
"As usual, Hallinan devotes such loving attention to a host of minor characters, all framed by Junior’s deadpan narrative."
“If I could take only one Hallinan series to a desert island, it's the Junior Bender series that I'd pack.”
"Hallinan has more “heart” than any other thriller/mystery writer I know . . . It reminds me of the Don Winslow mystery series about surfing. I mean, really, can crime be more fun than hanging out with these guys?"
Praise for the Junior Bender series
"Everything I've come to expect in a Hallinan novel: indelible, complex characters; fantastic plot; and moments of hold-your-breath suspense."
"Bender's quick wit and smart mouth make him a boon companion on this oddball adventure."
—The New York Times Book Review
"It’s not easy to come up with a new premise for a crime story, but Timothy Hallinan has managed it."
"Could not stop laughing. Tim Hallinan is sharp as a blade, has a wicked eye for human nature and keeps the reader guessing and rooting for Junior Bender all the way."
"Great narrative voice, complex plot, 3-D characters. Hallinan's deft comic tone and colorful characters have earned him comparisons to Donald Westlake and Carl Hiaasen. Check it out now."
"If Carl Hiaasen and Donald Westlake had a literary love child, he would be Timothy Hallinan."
"A modern-day successor to Raymond Chandler."
—Los Angeles Daily News
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Junior Bender lives in a world populated by characters with names such as Louie the Lost, Stinky Tetwiler, Wattles, Handkerchief Harrison, Monty Carlo, and Burt the Gut. Every one of these individuals, all criminals to a fault, enters into the tale Hallinan tells in Herbie’s Game. The Herbie of the title is Junior’s mentor and surrogate father, the man who taught him the burglary trade. “If I were ever sufficiently misguided to write my own life story,” he muses, “the hero of most of Act One would be a burglar named Herbie Mott.”
The game of the title is, of course, burglary. But it’s not run-of-the-mill, hit-and-run burglary of the sort perpetrated by drug addicts. This is a thoroughly professional approach, and Junior;s name has never surfaced in police files. For example, one of Herbie’s precepts is never to take everything valuable when burglarizing a home. Always leave the one item that its owners are likely to find most precious. That way they’ll think “At least, they didn’t take that.”
Junior’s misfortune is to be known among the criminal class in the Los Angeles world as a crack investigator, the equal of the best that any police force can offer. Thus, when some clueless malefactor commits a crime against a powerful crook, Junior is likely to be called in to track down the perpetrator. Asking the police for help is, obviously, not a good idea. Herbie’s Game tells the story of Junior’s latest venture into investigative work.
A criminal go-between named Wattles has called for Junior’s help because someone has stolen the list of people who serve as a sequence of cut-outs in what he calls a “chain.” For example, if someone contacts Wattles to arrange a hit, he will pass a huge envelope to the first person in a chain, who in turn will pass along the large envelope inside the one he received, who in turn will pass the somewhat smaller envelope inside it to a third person, and so forth. Every envelope contains a large sum of cash. In theory, no person knows the identity of anyone other than the one who passed along the envelope and the one he or she, in turn, passes to. That way, no one can connect the hitman (or hitwoman) who may be the sixth or seventh person at the end of the chain to Wattles, much less to the person who ordered the hit. Though Junior is aghast that Wattles should have written down all these names, he is forced to take on the job because Wattles threatens to set his own hitman on Junior if he doesn’t.
Junior’s investigation turns deadly as soon as he learns that Herbie, the likeliest suspect, has been brutally murdered. As Junior pursues his inquiry, working gradually down the chain in hopes of identifying the hitman, threats against his life come to light. Even worse, there are threats against his ex-wife and the 13-year-old daughter they both dote on. The mounting danger leads Junior into rethinking the choices he’s made in his life. Feeling ambivalent about his work, he muses that “those of us who chose Herbie’s Game faced a lifetime of wearing a mask, of lying, or making—sooner or later—the kind of decision that had cost me my wife and daughter. I probably hadn’t even figured out yet all the things that choosing Herbie’s Game had cost me.”
I won't recap what happens (I'm sure you can find a synopsis above, below, or just about anywhere you look). I will say that the book is
chock full of great characters, characters that live and breathe, characters that you care a great deal about, even some of the ones that aren't necessarily 'angels.' This isn't just another "adventure romp" (as so many series seem to devolve into), but is another step along in the lives of Junior and his family, friends, and associates, and few of them come out the other end unchanged (if they come out the other end at all...) When I read a book, I don't want to JUST feel like I've been on a carnival ride, I want to feel like I've been walking (and sleeping, and loving, and fighting, and growing) in someone else's shoes. This one did that for me.
All the Junior Bender books are a joy to read. This one explains some back story that's fun to know. But that's not why I enjoyed the book so much. It's the characters. Hallinan, whether he's writing the fun kind of stuff in the Junior Bender series or the weightier stuff in his Bangkok Thrillers, always -- and I mean always -- delivers on characters that are multi dimensional and real. (He claims that that's because they write the books and he just writes it down. I'm inclined to believe him.)
Dialog runs a close second to the characters in contributing to the great fun of reading Tim Hallinan books. In the Junior Bender books you get lots of fascinating tidbits about LA and Hollywood to boot.
And, of course, the mysteries are always meticulously constructed and consistently keep me up at night reading and reading and reading.
To top it off, Herbie's Game reveals some surprises that are as gasp-evoking for us readers as they are for Junior.
All in all, just a great fun read.
Most recent customer reviews
lovers of quirky characters, trivia buffs of all kinds, as well as those who love stories with heart!Read more