ONCE A CROOKED MAN by David McCallum


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An actor plays it for real when he tries to prevent a mob family from eliminating their potential enemies in this comic thriller.

Harry Murphy has had some success as a New York actor, but when his paychecks start coming from things like voice-overs in mayonnaise commercials, he figures it’s time to consider a new line of work. Stepping into a Queens alley to relieve himself, Harry overhears the conversation of three gangster brothers who, like him, have decided it’s time to leave their profession behind. First, though, there are loose ends to tie up—living ones. Too decent a guy to hear of a potential murder and not try to do anything about it, Harry flies to London, where he succeeds in averting murder but is mistaken for a mob enforcer and nearly killed himself. This debut novel by actor McCallum (NCIS, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) suggests the author has spent time enjoying the crime-and-espionage farces of Donald E. Westlake and the master of the genre, Ross Thomas. He’s not embarrassed by good dumb jokes (the mobsters are named the Bruschettis) or by what ensues when Harry teams up with a flirtatious British agent whose purpose is more to be the hero’s partner in backchat than in bed (though they’re suited there as well). McCallum also loves plot. He has a farceur’s taste for seeing how many complications he can bring to any situation.

This good-natured debut gives the reader as good a time as it has plainly afforded its author.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-250-08045-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2015


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