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by Ken Bruen

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-56168-7
Publisher: Minotaur

An ex-con, an ex-actress and an excess of gore star in Bruen’s latest exercise in dark-as-it-gets noir.

After three years, Mitchell is out of jail and back on London’s mean streets, knowing one thing for sure: He’s not going back. The difficulty, of course, is how to keep his nose clean when everything it sniffs reeks of gangsters. For instance, Mitch’s old buddy Billy Norton wants him to join a flourishing loan-sharking operation that he can’t help seeing as a slippery slope. Still, ex-cons have so few choices that something like Billy’s deal seems inevitable. Enter opportunity in the surprisingly lissome form of Lillian Palmer, an aging actress who can still do wonders for a dormant libido. She hires Mitch as a handyman for all reasons, and soon enough, in an extended echo of Sunset Boulevard, they become intimate. Mitch seems to be settling in, with a cushy job, a lady who interests him and a perfectly gorgeous Rolls-Royce more or less at his disposal. But a man whose mantra is “I don’t do friendly” has a way of unleashing hostile forces; soon bullets are flying and body bags filling, all too often with those Mitch loves.

Mindless violence masquerading as noir. Bruen (Once Were Cops, 2008, etc.) has done much better.