Hired as a bodyguard for African-American reality TV star Bismarck Avila, a rapper and skateboard mogul, "astoundingly vanilla" LA limo driver Michael Skellig draws on his background as an Army Special Forces officer in Afghanistan to save his client from killers.
Skellig graduates from being Avila's driver to being his bodyguard after he saves the young celebrity—but not one of his 300-pound protectors—from gunmen at a nightclub. Hard-edged LAPD detective Delilah Groopman, with whom Skellig has had a serious flirtation, wrongly suspects he killed the muscleman himself, so he must outrun not only the bad guys who are out to do in Avila, but also the sexy police officer. That becomes exceptionally complicated after Skellig kills a dirty LA cop who is torturing members of his limo company's team of wounded veterans. Hanson, creator of the long-running TV series Bones, takes to crime fiction in high style. Like Carl Hiaasen, he shows great pleasure in combining nasty violence with an arch comic sensibility ("When one is obliged to dispose of a murdered body, one faces a Gordian knot wrapped around Pandora's box, which contains Occam’s razor," says Skellig, a nonstop stream of pithy comments). Skellig's crew of Afghanistan veterans is an entertaining bunch. It includes Tinkertoy, a female mechanic with a quirky case of PTSD, and Ripple, a barely-19-year-old with issues of his own. The ghostly warnings Skellig hears, in the voice of a terrorist he shot in Yemen, add to the fun.
Bones showrunner Hanson's fresh-voiced first novel is a lark, which is saying something considering the violence to which its characters are subjected.