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Top customer reviews
A fast paced novel that takes you into the very heart of human nature in regards to greed, laziness and love. What would you do when your life is on the line and you only have two weeks to produce results or die? What would you do if the one whom you love is in danger? What would you do if you were a person that most would consider a bum and a failure?
Meet Buddy and experience a two week rollercoaster trip into the madhouse and stress as he searches for the unknown manuscript....a script that will determine if he lives or dies.
The characters in this book are outstanding! The individuals involved here have personalities that are well defined and keeps you turning page after page. Not once was there a "slow" or "boring" spot.
Definitely a must read!
Narratively set in Los Angeles, Chicago, and London (two thirds of which I have hands-on knowledge of), I found his sense of place so specifically etched as to be living and breathing: the smell and heat of Los Angeles with its myriad characters and iconic neighborhoods, the hard chill of Chicago’s classic urbanness and darker tones, and, of course, London, which Barry knows well.
And beyond place, one of Barry’s true skills is his ability to create unique, fully fleshed, very complex characters that are occasionally recognizable, but more often than not so original that readers can only stare and follow with an eagerness to see just where they’ll lead! His protagonist, Buddy Chinn, is something of an archetypal LA character: a has-been writer (and son of a famous beat-era author who, even in death, outshines his son), who’s living on booze and racetrack earnings while stumbling through a confounding relationship with Monique (which may or may not be true love), lost in a haze of what might have been.
At the story’s beginning, he’s “hired” (as in forced with threats against life and limb) by a malevolent book collector to seek and find a lost set of letters between Buddy’s father and a late chess champion, and from there Hollywood Shakedown becomes an increasingly delirious adventure that leaps continents and engages the narrative services of an offbeat cast of characters, leading to an ending that is both unexpected and satisfying. There are guns, gangsters, bizarre chess matches, spiritual visitations, hot sex, burgeoning friendships, and, ultimately, the recognition of some meaning in it all. In other words, a damn good yarn!
What I love about Barry’s style is his ability to mix acerbic humor and clever plot twists with deeper, darker musings on the meaning of life, all brought to life by rough-edged, alcohol-soaked, disappointment-whipped men who are a mix of violent and vulnerable, and complex, sometimes exasperating, always (mostly!) appealing women who stir up those men, all converging in stories can’t help but capture our rapt interest and attention. Hollywood Shakedown never fails to do just that... in another wild ride from Barry’s seemingly bottomless and colorful imagination!
This is a bumper blockbuster of a book, a slightly tongue-in-cheek crime/gangster thriller that races from Los Angeles to Chicago, to London and back again. It reminded me in some ways of a Jackie Collins, and certainly of the weighty and multi-faceted popular fiction heavyweights of the 1980s.
Buddy Chinn is a lazy, alcoholic, not very successful writer, passionately in love with the wayward Monique. His trial starts when he meets dastardly rare manuscript collector Mortimer Saxon, who sets him a task ~ to uncover a lost series of correspondence between Buddy's father Henry (a much more successful writer) and a famous chess champion. The prize will be $100,000. Failure to complete the task will mean almost certain death.
This is the fifth Mark Barry I've read, and it follows some of the traits of his other books: the sensitive loser you can't help loving, hopelessly addicted to a woman who, the reader suspects, is less keen. The difference with this book is that we get to see Monique's point of view too - and very surprising it is! All the characters in this page turner are sharply drawn with humour and intricate detail, as always, and the plot is unpredictable and so well thought out. One of the main triumphs, for me, is that an English writer living in England has successfully written about Americans living in the US; only now and again did I feel the dialogue/narrative was a little self-conscious, and that's only because I'm a bit picky!
It's really a book to settle in and snuggle down with, as I've enjoyed doing over the last few days. Mark Barry is a terrifically talented writer, and I'd recommend anything written by him.