You know you’re in the Land of Noir when the two most sympathetic characters are a drug dealer and an embezzler.
Quinlan’s second novel, after the very promising Smoked (2006), is not just noir, but stygian noir; it spurts not just blood, but bathtubs full of it; characters inflict violence not just happily, but with sadistic embellishments that teeter on the edge of gratuitous. Linebacker large and matinee-idol handsome (“Okay, not the brightest bulb in the package,” admits new ladyfriend Dot Racine), Dick Miller lands a job at Feldman Real Estate even though he’s just four months out of the slammer. He may have done the mandatory five for possession with intent, but Dick is also a world-class typist, and lovely Dot needs one. She runs the real-estate company for old man Feldman and is in the process of bilking the firm out of heavy money with the help of equally lovely, though utterly naïve Lydia Sante. Dot likes Dick. Dot takes Dick to bed. Dot, as it happens, does not have long to live. Enter Nestor, a stone killer whose feelings for Dot encompass both love and hate. And Breeze, Nestor’s female counterpart, whose love-hate relationship is with the world. For complicated reasons, both have come to view Dot as a target of opportunity. Nor are they by any means the only ones available as suspects when, on a snowy night in late December, Dot is gunned down. Dick takes the murder personally. He cares for Dot, would give a lot to know who put her bullet-riddled body in the trunk of his car. The trouble is—what with one thing and another that passed on that kaleidoscopic night—he can’t be absolutely sure it wasn’t him.
Above-average entertainment diminished somewhat by a jittery plot that hops about like some deranged rabbit.