Gischler, Victor. Gun Monkeys.

Los Angeles: Uglytown, 2001.

I generally prefer my mysteries and detective stories on the cerebral side, rather than hardboiled Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich noir-style, but I’ll make an exception for this one, which was recommended to me by a friend.

Charlie Swift is a simple person — not stupid but he doesn’t require a lot from life. He’s good with his fists and his guns, and that’s really all he needs. He has risen to become the senior member of a group of enforcers and goons working for Stan, the crime boss of Orlando, and he prefers to just go along, doing what he’s told, and thinking for himself as little as possible. But now Stan is getting old, and his mind is becoming iffy, and the Miami mob wants to take over his turf. Charlie is nothing if not loyal and he’s going to fight back as long and as hard as possible. But the FBI is also taking a hand in things. And there’s a set of incriminating ledgers floating around that everyone wants. And Charlie really ought to remember to put plastic down in the trunk of his car the next time he dumps a headless body in there. He also has a kid brother who wants in on the action (not if Charlie has anything to say about it), and there’s this female taxidermist whom he’s becoming interested in — after whacking her good-for-nothing husband.

It’s hard to describe a story about a collection of violent career criminals and stone killers as a “romp,” but that’s sort of what this is. Charlie has a narrow but unique view of the world and becomes a surprisingly sympathetic character. There’s plenty of tension interspersed with dry wit, and the characters and dialogue are equally well done. I’ll have to go and see what else Gischler has written.

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Published in: on 5 December 2012 at 5:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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