A crime caper in the tradition of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, this fast and funny debut is the story of "Shake" Bouchon, fresh out of prison and ready for life on the straight and narrow—well, maybe after one last job....
When Charles "Shake" Bouchon, professional wheel man, walks out of prison after a three-year stretch for grand theft auto, he's got only two problems: he's too nice a guy for the life he's led and not nice enough for any other. So he says yes when he's asked to run a simple errand for his former boss and lover, Alexandra Ilandryan, the formidable pakhan of the Armenian mob in Los Angeles. All Shake has to do is deliver a package to Las Vegas and pick up a briefcase. Only the package turns out to be a wholesome young housewife named Gina whose husband has run afoul of Dick Moby, aka "The Whale", an unpleasant 400-pound Vegas strip-club owner. Shake hates to think what's going to happen to Gina when he delivers her to The Whale, so in a move that's as noble as it is boneheaded, he decides to set her free.
Now Shake and Gina are on the run to Panama, hoping to unload the very valuable—and highly unusual—contents of The Whale's briefcase. Shake could end up a rich man, but first he'll have to outmaneuver two angry crime bosses, a murderous Armenian thug plagued by erectile superfunction, a former pro football player who blames Shake for his romantic woes, and a billionaire swindler with a flair for the theatrical. Not to mention, and not the least, Shake will need to survive his own heart, since he's going to discover that wholesome housewife Gina is even more intriguing, and a lot more complicated, than he ever imagined.
Full of blindsided double-crosses and hard shots to the head, Gutshot Straight is a tale of love, luck, and larceny against the odds.
©2010 Lou Berney (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"A highly entertaining caper novel.... Like Carl Hiaasen, Berney delights in the cartoonish. Like Elmore Leonard, he can drive a plot. What sets him apart is how well he evokes love, making the romance at the heart of this cinematic novel as compelling as the mystery." (The Boston Globe)
“This book is full of crooks, murderers, Mafia, strippers, and assorted villains, and Ballerini gives each character his or her own identity. This book is smart and sexy, and easily could be turned into a movie. Nonetheless, with Ballerini's performance, you don't need a screen—you can see it come together just by listening.” (AudioFile)
"The plot turns are constant, and the dialogue is sharp. The bad guys are wonderfully scary, and the locales—Las Vegas and Panama—are vividly drawn. The estimable Elmore Leonard might be very pleased to call Gutshot Straight his own." (Booklist)
This book kept me chuckling and guessing all the way through it; in fact, to the very last paragraph. Mr. Berney knows how to write a thriller, and he has a great sense of humor. Mr. Balerini, though, is a truly wonderful discovery. His feel for the material is absolutely commanding. His delivery of the funny stuff is dead-on; there are lines in the book which might be just mildly funny, but he makes them sing. The plot is inventive, taking Our Hero Shake through LA, Las Vegas and all the way to Panama City. The search for the religious relic is hilarious. I won't spoil it by telling you what everybody is fighting for; that's half the fun. Gina, our female star, is someone I can't really call a hero, but she sure is fun herself, if you are amused by a ruthless, amoral psychopath using her blazing sexuality to baffle every man in sight. I loved her. There are sleazy bad guys and complicated good guys, an obscenely wealthy dork whom you can't possibly do anything but hate, an extremely clever female Armenian gangster (yes, Armenian) and a bunch of others whom only Mr. Berney could invent. I hope he is working on another book, and I desperately hope Mr. Balerini reads it. More fun than a barrel of monkeys.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
This is pretty standard suitcase-full-of-money fare. (Though in this case the suitcase is stuffed with something a good deal more bizarre and entertaining) Pleasant enough and nicely paced. The Panama setting where it ends up adds some tasty local color. The two characters at the center of the story are appealing and it is the tension between them which keeps us engaged when the plot wears a trifle thin. Berney writes with intelligence and some wit, so all in all I was happy to ride along with him to the end.
So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.
I had this book on my wish list for a long time. Lots of people had given it high ratings, but something about it's name or description kept me from ever buying and listening to it. I'm so glad I finally took the leap though. After listening to many, many different novels, this one stands out as one of the few I keep thinking about.
Definitely worth the credit.
This was my first experience with Lou Berney and I was quite pleased.
While some of the reviewers and critics describe the story as hilarious, rib-tickling, or knee slapping, it is not by any stretch - so don't expect an outright comedy. The book was simply a very entertaining caper-style story, which was also very well written with a few chuckles and snickers along the way.
The Publisher's Summary nails the story line as the main character "Shake", goes on a crazy roller coaster ride through Vegas and Panama, linked to a girl he meets (Gina) while on a "job" a driver.
The character development is good in that there are a lot of twists and turns along the way, which fits these types of characters perfectly - all of them.
All in all, I enjoyed this one and may look for another book by Lou Berney as well.
If you are looking for an entertaining story, beautifully read, you have come to the right place.
OK, you have to like a good crime story. You have to want it to have a sense of humour. You need to be happy for it to be a little off the wall, with a nice line in terse dialogue. you have to like a narrator who identifies with the characters, who IS them.
If you are up for that. Go for it. You will love it. I did.
This is the best audio book for sheer entertainment I have listened to for a while. More please, Lou. And stick with Edoardo. He's a keeper.
I have purchased over 400 books. I have high standards for writing and content, but indulge in "travel trash" or fairly good entertainment.
I don't know. I really enjoyed Edorado Ballerini, he did a great job.
It was purely entertainment. As stated it was almost a comedy, almost a parody, almost a thriller. It was fun to listen to. It was like a game trying to anticipate the next surprise, much the same as the story line. I was glad I bought it. will check into some of his other books. The reader was great!!! The author took a great position, he is writing almost tongue in cheek it seems, and therefore doesn't try to push anything beyond his goal. He never got in his own way in terms of story line, ability, humor, etc. Well done.
I am a blessed man!
Lou Berney has created the coolest hero I've encountered since Elmore Leonard's Chili Palmer in Get Shorty. And thank goodness for talent like Eduardo Ballerini to bring this story to life.
The story is suspenseful, fast paced and believable. Absolutely one of my favorite books!
Retired 35 year policeman from So CA, relocated with my wife to South Carolina with "Toby" our cat. I listen to two books a week
Loved all the characters, good guys and bad ones a like.
Kept the wonderful wit in the story without making it silly.
yes, but it took two days
Great story line and characters that were both humorous and real.
The final gun pointing show down, so to speak. Very funny, would make a excellent movie scene.
The million dollar foreskin.
Mr. Ballerini's narration is perfect and makes the characters come to life. The plot, though predictable at times, still manages to be riveting. A great listen I hated to put down!
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