BLOWN by Mark Haskell Smith

BLOWN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When a Wall Street trader rips off $17 million of his brokerage’s cash, it initiates an island-hopping chase across the Caribbean.

Smith’s (Raw, 2013, etc.) novels are an acquired taste but often leave readers wanting more. Here, he delivers a comic crime novel inspired by the criminal character of Wall Street and its modern-day robber barons. A prologue finds a main character stranded on the high seas, imprisoned by a stranger. Next, meet our “bad guy.” Bryan LeBlanc is a trader on his company’s foreign exchange desk, and the former boy genius is embittered—not a Fight Club burn-the-world-down anarchist but more of a disaffected sort who’s convinced himself his theft is sticking it to the man. “Call it dropping out or early retirement, but somebody had to show that those [Wall Street] values were corrupt; exploiting people didn’t lead to happiness,” Smith writes. “He could make a stand for a better world, inflict some hurt on a big bank—all that and get a tan.” His theft is the catalyst for a rapid, funny, and often lewd pursuit across the West Indies by a quirky cast. Those on the chase include Bryan’s boss, Seo-Yun Kim, a Korean-American savant with an eccentric personality and a blossoming sexual appetite; Neal Nathanson, the bank’s lovelorn internal investigator; and eventually Piet Room, the book's most interesting character, a dwarf ex-cop with the swagger and charm of Tyrion Lannister. Smith works out the mechanics of his heist beautifully, including the inconvenience of hauling around millions in cash and the inevitability that someone dangerous is going to catch up to you eventually, while still throwing in the occasional graphic jolt to make sure you’re paying attention. Smith isn’t always the best at sticking the landing (hello, deus ex machina), but readers will have enough fun here to push the boundaries of plausibility a little.

Another madcap crime caper, one with a little temper and a dirty mind.

Pub Date: June 12th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2814-0
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Black Cat/Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2018




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