Van Rooy, the Canadian writer who died earlier this year, offers the second, and presumably last, installment in the rambunctious saga of an ex-con who insists against all the evidence that he wants to go straight.
It’s not easy to stay on the straight and narrow when your most adventurous job is as a babysitter. Just ask Montgomery Haaviko (An Ordinary Decent Criminal, 2010), who’s trying to make a decent life for his wife Claire and their baby son Fred in sunny Manitoba. The provocations to backsliding are considerable. Claire, who has designs on the real-estate market, drags Monty along to hear a pitch from Marie Blue Duck about smuggling illegals into Canada. Naturally, Monty doesn’t want to get involved, but at length he agrees to throw in with Marie. Before they can launch their enterprise, however, Monty has to purge their little cooperative of Greg Whitefox, the smuggler/thief/lowlife who’s all too likely to bring trouble down on their heads. And he has to handle Samantha Ritchot, the meth dealer Greg told about Marie’s plan, and her legion of thugs. And he has to clean out the crack house that’s sullying his own neighborhood. And, once it’s cleaned out, he has to make sure it stays clean. Mostly, though, he has to deal with his old friend Smiley, a fellow con who’s turned up on his doorstep demanding shelter, a piece of the action and, just possibly, a pound of flesh on behalf of Samantha.
Don’t be fooled by Monty’s casual tone or throwaway wisecracks. He is one tough hombre, and his story is fast, brutal and sad, only because it may be the last we hear of him.