Teenage Caleb Rush crawls out of a brontosaurus’s butt in the latest of the crime series including Crush (2015) and Heart Attack and Vine (2016).
Caleb sits at the controls of a brontosaurus tail in the Age of Fossil Fuels float that his rich stepuncle, Victor Zerbe, drives in Pasadena’s 2001 Tournament of Roses Parade. Victor shoots himself in the head, and the float runs off the road. That “spectacular suicide” echoes 17 years later, when petty criminal K.C. Zerbe is kidnapped while under house arrest. K.C. is Caleb’s ex-stepbrother, and Caleb is now known on the street as Crush. Crush’s ex-stepfather, Emil Zerbe, dreams of creating his legacy, a high-speed rail from LA to San Francisco, and certain people will do anything to stop him. Meanwhile, K.C.’s identical twin, Noel, is in a group called Targeted Individuals that believes that sinister forces—“They”—want to control people’s minds. The likable Crush doesn’t dominate this manic story, but he’s always in the middle, meaning he takes plenty of hits to the head. A doctor examines him and asks “What’s three times twenty-four?” Crush replies “Mike Pence,” answering a previous question. The pages are peppered with crazy people, and Crush isn’t exempt. Noel tells “Jack,” the kidnapper he hired, “I don’t know if you’ve behaved ethically,” and a friend tells Noel, “You should give him a bad Yelp review under ‘Kidnappers.’" Crush encounters a bomb with red and blue wires, just as in Homeland or 24, and he snips them both. “Then the bomb went off,” with unexpected results. Overlords, Lancaster, California’s Civic Musical Road, and a volley of arrows help nicely resolve the oddball, thoroughly entertaining plot.
A smart, noirish mystery loaded with clever dialogue and vivid characters. The Crush series is as good as it gets.