It becomes really hard to tell which side is which when an Everyman stumbles into an underground war between hit persons.
Novelist (Upgunned, 2012, etc.) and screenwriter Schow mashes up his interest in movies and mayhem in this fiercely violent, mordantly comical slab of pulp fiction that’s rife with bullets, bloodshed, and bedlam. It starts with Dave Vollmand, an everyday Joe who works around Hollywood doing quality assurance on DVDs and spends his spare time knocking back cold ones with his best buddy, Hayden, and spending time with his dog, Kingi. But he’s creeping up on middle age, and stuck in the back of his lizard brain is Dalia “Daisy” Villareal, the high school beauty he crushed on back in the day. A few clicks of a keyboard later and he’s having drinks with Daisy, now a recent divorcée. Things get twisty as Schow unveils a secretive world of spies and assassins that involves the FBI, CIA, and a shadowy cabal known as “Chase,” led by serious hard-case James Smith and his first lieutenant, Rolf Dettrick. As secret identities are revealed and Dave’s world explodes into gunfights and car chases, it all becomes very cinematic, but Schow pulls off a neat trick by giving Dave a running inner monologue about how all of this real-world violence doesn’t seem anything like it does in the movies. But even as Dave learns that Daisy’s particular skill set is a bit more murder-y than he had expected, we learn that Dave isn’t quite what we’ve been led to believe either. Suddenly, between Dave’s newly remembered skills, the killers for hire, and the mobsters gunning for Dave, there’s a whole lot of bullets flying. It all goes a bit Looney Tunes near the end, but the book’s frenetic pace and a couple of spectacular set pieces, including a shootout in a veterinary hospital and a standoff in a mountain hideaway, make it a fun ride.
A kinetic, comical thriller that fires away with abandon.