My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reviewed for Amazon Vine
I’ve been waiting for this book a long time, though I didn’t know it was Timothy Hallinan’s Crashed (Soho Crime 2013). What I wanted was more Elvis Cole, but Robert Crais only writes about one book every two years. I need one a week.
Now, I have a worthy alternative. Junior Bender, the hero in Hallinan’s thief-who-solves-crimes series, is a good-hearted burglar who is at peace with his lifestyle. On his most recent job, Junior is set-up. To escape with his freedom, he must use his clever brain to make sure a porn movie being produced by one of LA’s biggest crime bosses successfully wraps. He’s OK with that–nothing judgmental about his nature–until he decides that the female lead (a child star who’s fallen on hard times) shouldn’t be doing porn. To untangle her and himself takes considerable intellect, conniving, and wit. No problem. Junior has all that and more.
This was my first Junior Bender novel. I’m always hesitant with new authors/new series. Will they be worth my time? Can the writer weave a tale that is engaging yet quick? Can he take his character over a cliff without killing him–or my interest? Crashed did it in the first scene, so strange it had me flipping along to see how it made any sense at all. Hallinan completely won me over when I read Junior’s philosophy of life:
There’s something about those warm yellow rectangles [windows lit at night] with the unavoidable implication that there are families inside, still whole and complete, safe and comfortable, living by the rules and loving each other. I know it’s not always that way, I know that terrible things can happen in a lighted window, but that’s not what I see. What I see is one of the candles that holds the world together.
Right here, we know this is not the usual mindless, amoral thief. And that’s not Junior’s only quirkiness, but you’ll have to read the book to discover the rest. Plus, he has a sense of humor (much like Elvis Cole). At one point, he’s describing the clothing of his porn movie employer:
…along with a pale-yellow silk business suit that would have turned heads at a Braille convention
Suffice it to say that by page 81, I was pretty sure this was a guy I’d be happy to travel a couple hundred pages with. The plot, too, lived up to Junior’s creativity, with lots of quick twists, unexpected developments, and traumas that tested the problem-solving skills of our unlikely hero. If the other three books in the Junior Bender Series don’t show up on my Vine list this week, I’ll be using my Christmas gift card to buy them.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.