Monday, June 2, 2008

BUSTED TO THE M.A.X.!



Bust by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr (Hard Case, 2006)
Slide by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr (Hard Case, 2007)

Jason Starr has long been my pick of the younger-than-me noir crowd for his rare ability to bring classic noir sensibilities to unabashedly modern settings. Hard Case Crime is currently my favorite paperback publisher. Nor were my high expectations for this fortuitous combo disappointed. In Bust, Starr takes that hoary old plot of husband killing wife to run off with secretary to previously unexplored levels of perversity. Wife Diedre is so appalling you hope the plot succeeds; husband Max is so odiously upscale you hope he gets caught. And enhanced secretary Angela, who’s only in it for the money, ensures comedy of the darkest variety when she refers Max to a “hitman:” her too-psycho-for-the-IRA paddywhacking boyfriend. A series of completely unexpected (albeit predictably bloody plot twists) set the stage for the sequel Slide. Max reinvents himself as “The M.A.X.,” the lamest crack dealer ever! Angela imports an even bigger Irish psycho who dreams of eclipsing Ted Bundy! The only thing piling up faster than the bodies are the noir-shout outs. I’m sure I missed plenty, but Willeford is all over the place, and if I’m not mistaken, that’s co-author Ken Bruen (now high on my to-be read list) reflexively falling victim to an abortive Rolling Stones kidnapping plot. I can hardly wait for the next sequel, Max, to hit the shelves of Kayo Books.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

ha! i knew you would come around to ken bruen eventually. killing of the tinkers is a nasty read.