THE BARTENDER by Brian  O'Sullivan

THE BARTENDER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An amoral grifter chooses the wrong person to victimize in this novel told from multiple viewpoints.

The titular character in this third book by O’Sullivan (The Patsy, 2018, etc.) is Olive Fairbanks. Olive, 26, is an intelligent, attractive wannabe writer who is tending bar to pay the bills in Los Angeles. She has always been unlucky in love until handsome Austin Jenkins walks into her bar, The Belly Flop. The chiseled Southerner sweeps Olive off her feet. Austin seems too good to be true, and he is. Con artist Becca Poe is blackmailing Austin with a video from high school. Her plan is to have Austin trick Olive to get inside the mansion of Barry Gant, the bar owner who has long been infatuated with the bartender. Becca has learned that Barry keeps hundreds of thousands of dollars in his home safe. This home invasion would be under the pretense of Austin wanting to open a bar and seeking Barry’s advice. Becca’s scheme works flawlessly. Her thuggish accomplice, Chet Watkins, knocks out Olive and kills Barry. Then Becca shoots Austin and Chet. She steals more than $600,000 but leaves behind $75,000 to fool investigators into thinking that the robbers, Olive, and Barry killed one another. Her big mistake is that Olive, who Becca thought was dying, survives Chet’s attack, and the bartender wants to discover the truth. O’Sullivan has created a winning protagonist in Olive, who grew up as a Nancy Drew fan and is determined to figure out how she was used in this scheme that left Barry dead. “Bad seed” Becca proves Olive’s ideal foil. Spineless Austin is caught in the middle, falling for Olive but doomed as Becca’s pawn. Employing multiple voices is O’Sullivan’s very effective narrative device in this engrossing tale. These include not only the three main characters, but also Richard, the desperate detective whom Olive hires to help her track down Becca. Having each describe the action helps readers better understand the players. Let’s hope the author brings back intriguing bartender/detective Olive for another case.

A delicious blend of romance and thriller that goes down smoothly.

Pub Date: June 20th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9992956-3-2
Page count: 279pp
Publisher: Big B Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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