My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reviewed for Amazon Vine
I’ve read all of the Junior Bender comic-mystery series by Timothy Hallinan and loved every one of them (see my review of “Crashed” and “Little Elvises“). It features a moral burglar–kind of a Renaissance Man–who is excellent at his job, but keeps getting into trouble. Unsurprisingly, this is mostly because of the people he (Junior is a crook–an exquisitely talented thief) hangs out with. Junior’s exploits are always clever, quick, and told with a witty humor and a pride of product that makes everything seem like it’ll work out. He shares lots of tips on how to be a successful burglar–almost a procedural on the subject. What makes his character even more intriguing is that Junior is something of a bibliophile, always connecting the world around him to some historic event:
“The Cahuenga Pass, which derived its name from a Spanish mispronunciation of Cahueg-na, a Native American trading post that once occupied much of the space…”
Or the love of literacy (reading and language) that constantly shapes his world:
“It occurred to me that I was about twenty minutes away from Ronnie’s neat, bright, book-filled little apartment…”
“Would it be possible for us to dispense with the conditional tense?” “Is that like if and might have?”
“King Maybe” (Soho Crime 2016) was no exception. In this story, Junior runs into trouble with what should have been an easy job, and the solution to get him out of trouble only makes things worse. What happens next is the usual fun Hallinan-inspired-and-witty romp as Junior tries to out-think and outsmart the criminals trying to control him, except this time–unlike previous books–the interior monologue wandered perilously close to ranting. Here’s an example:
“The Ubermenschen of anger, the truly globally angry, were of course politicians, and, to a less extent, high-ranking military officers. Not all of them, of course; some of them (to give them the benefit of the doubt) actually wanted to serve their country, but others (many of them marked, like Cain, with the inverted facial U that Herbie used to call ‘Donald Trump Mount’) wanted power, pure and simple.”
Hallinan may have intended it as character development, but for me, it distracted from what is usually a fun, light read. Having said that, this is an opinion many readers will share.
Overall, an excellent book, but not as engaging as the earlier ones in the series. I’ll still read the next one.
More witty thrillers/mysteries:
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 the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.