The Shortcut Man is back once more, and he quickly becomes mired in more than one case of sex, drugs, blackmail and—what else?—murder.
Ex-cop Dick Henry enjoys helping innocent victims recoup their losses in inventive ways. Whether he’s showering indoor plants with body fluids or sending in a man whose noxious fumes cause people to hurl their breakfast burritos, shady characters promptly get the message and do his bidding. In this latest noir thriller, Henry’s hired to find a woman who disappeared six years earlier. His investigation takes him to Ivanhoe Productions, a legit movie company with a sleazy special talent program designed for owner Howard Hogue’s pleasure. (He has a thing for tall, busty blondes.) When one of the girls is brutally assaulted by Hogue’s star director, Eli Nazarian, Henry steps in to help “housemother” Devi Stanton when she calls him for assistance. Before you can say apple cheese danish, Nazarian and Hogue’s lackey, Melvin Shea, are found tied together, sans pants, in a refrigerator box behind Dunkin’ Donuts, and neither has any clue how they—or the dead dog between them—got there. With big bucks and reputations at stake, Shea, Nazarian and a crooked doctor try to cover some very dirty tracks, as Henry uncovers the details of a murder that took place at Hogue’s mansion years earlier, an act that could bring down a famous actor and the movie mogul himself.
Sturges (The Tribulations of the Shortcut Man, 2012, etc.) piles on the chuckles, throws in a host of extreme characters and provides readers with nonstop action. And he does so with enough finesse to compensate for the novel’s weaknesses.