Beinhart, Larry. No One Rides for Free.

NY: Morrow, 1986.

Tony Cassella is a New York private detective with a whole lot of history and an entire crew of monkeys on his back. He’s offered a case by a fancy Wall Street law firm (and immediately triples his usual rates) with the task of finding out what one of their attorneys, Edgar Good, convicted of embezzlement, has been telling the SEC in an attempt to stay out of Attica.

Then Good gets whacked outside a suburban restaurant and Tony knows it wasn’t just a random mugging. The law firm is relieved that the case has more or less settled itself, but the victim’s daughter wants Tony to find out who actually killed her father. And Tony makes the mistake of promising to do it — a mistake, because now he’ll have to honor his promise, which could put him in a lot of danger personally, because that’s just the way he is. He also has a habit of doing stupid things. For instance, he’s living with Glenda and her young son, who provide a much-needed anchor of stability in his chaotic life, but then he risks it all for a fling with his client, with whom he has fallen in love. And then there’s his Uncle Vince, who is a wiseguy of some description, and whom he has avoided ever since Vince and Tony’s late father had a falling-out, but now he risks getting sucked into that dicey world (and all the money and other resources it could provide him) in order to accomplish what he has decided he needs to do. Moreover, he doesn’t hesitate to use carefully scripted violence and threats to obtain information. He’s an amoral person, whose actions are frequently lubricated with cocaine. Frankly, there isn’t anyone in the book the reader can admire, or even like very much — but Beinhart does a terrific job of telling the story, and describing the action, and developing the characters. His dialogue is honed to a sharp edge and you won’t be able to stop reading till you get to the unpleasantly vindictive end. This was Beinhart’s first novel, the first of three in a series, and it won him an Edgar.

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Published in: on 21 April 2012 at 4:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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