What could be worse than being convicted of a crime you didn’t commit? The hero of Silva’s novel finds out almost the minute he ventures outside prison walls for the first time in seven years.
J.D. Mize isn’t what you’d call a lucky guy. When the son of a California state senator dies as the result of a barroom brawl in which he was involved, Mize finds himself in prison for seven long years. Now a parolee, he reports to the tough Delilah Jones every week. It doesn’t take him long to get into trouble, thanks to his ex-wife’s careless comments to the wrong people. Who could be a more perfect patsy than Mize when Michael Sirocco, a crooked businessman, wants Sen. Thackery dead? Just to make sure he’ll see things their way, Sirocco’s stooges kidnap Mize’s sister, Verna, and beat up the boss of his new love interest, Terry—and when that doesn’t do the trick, they frame him for Thackery’s murder. But they haven’t reckoned that a surprisingly resourceful Mize will do whatever it takes to rescue Verna. Mize is an endearing hero, whether he’s charming his hard-as-nails parole officer by getting her teenage son out of trouble, trying to warn the senator or turning the tables on Sirocco and his band of killers. Silva’s characters intrigue, and events move deftly from the prison to a hotel to Sirocco’s yacht and beyond. The book’s biggest drawback is the lack of believability of some plot points; in particular, the police seem no smarter than Keystone Kops in their pursuit of Mize. Silva doesn’t trust his readers enough not to continually remind them who Verna and Jones are, and lines like, “I have to go along while they’re holding Verna, my sister,” spoken to Mize’s ex-wife, no less, is just one example of the often-awkward dialogue. The short chapters often don’t work well; this isn’t a James Patterson page turner, so there’s rarely a good enough reason to break things up so often, particularly not in the middle of a scene.
With the tone of a vintage crime caper, this could be the first novel in a series starring Mize; there’s no chance of the poor guy staying out of trouble for long.