Junior Bender is back to untangle one of the weirdest mysteries in Tinseltown.
LA burglar Junior Bender has, unfortunately, developed a reputation as a competent private investigator for crooks. The unfortunate part about this is that, regardless of whether he solves the crime or not, someone dangerous is going to be unhappy with him - either his suspect or his employer.
Now Junior is being bullied into proving aging music-industry mogul Vinnie DiGaudio is innocent of the murder of a nasty tabloid journalist he'd threatened to kill a couple times. It doesn't help that the dead journalist's widow is one pretty lady, and she's trying to get Junior to mix business with pleasure. Just as the investigation is spiraling out of control, Junior's hard-drinking landlady begs him to solve the disappearance of her daughter, who has gotten involved with a very questionable character. And, worst news of all, both Junior’s ex-wife and his 13-year-old daughter, Rina, seem to have new boyfriends. What a mess.
©2012 Timothy Hallinan (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Hallinan’s second Junior Bender mystery sends the LA burglar/PI on a journey into pop music’s supposedly innocuous 1950s past, mixing light and dark humor… The skewed, Runyonesque Southern California setting, epitomized by Junior’s home, the seedy but festively Yule-themed Marge 'n Ed’s North Pole motel, promises much for further outings." (Publishers Weekly)
"In Hallinan’s Los Angeles, where everyone leans on everyone else, investigator/thief Junior Bender gets leaned on good. Versatile Hallinan provides a wealth of seamy types, past and present, and a thousand hard-boiled similes for his second-string Philip Marlowe." (Kirkus Reviews)
I blindly bought this book knowing nothing about the author or the character and was delighted with my choice. The narration is excellent and I prefer it to the other narrator of Hallinan's books, though both are good, Berkrot gets the feel of the books just perfect.
The story is fun, face paced and filled with likable, outrageous characters. It is gritty but almost in a fun way like a James Bond film or good comic book. I'd say this is perfect summer or road trip reading. The story keeps you engaged and the plot just complex enough without being difficult to follow when heard aloud. (I often find books I'd otherwise have no difficulty with are harder to follow on a road trip.)
the plot follows two mysteries, the one about the "Little Elvises" and a side plot about a serial killer and a missing daughter of a friend. The "Little Elvises" mystery ends up being a little absurd but the serial killer side plot finishes off the book in an entirely satisfying manner.
So many authors write page turners that torture their main character, dragging you across emotional gravel until you come out bruised and exhausted at the end only to find a character you love has died and the book ends with the hero in limbo until the next absurdly long and tortuous book. I of course read the heck out of these as well but it is immensely satisfying to find a book that is compelling, without being tortuous, fun and that has a satisfying ending.
Just as much fun and just as little depth as a classic Bond film.
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