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by Ray Banks

Pub Date: March 4th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-15-101459-0
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A Manchester tough guy learns that no good deed goes unpunished.

Ex-convict Cal Innes, a sometime private investigator, ekes out a living as the muscle for shady landlord Donald Plummer, who has a healthy disdain for the legal system. Plummer wants Cal to “accelerate” the eviction process for his many delinquent tenants. Comically complicating the job is Cal’s sidekick, nicknamed Daft Frank because of a harebrained robbery scheme gone awry. Cal expects resistance, even physical opposition, from the tenants, but a locked apartment door with smoke billowing out from beneath abruptly vaults him into heroism; he rescues a reluctant little boy too terrified to talk before his rescuer passes out. Cal awakens to find himself the subject of a laudatory piece in the local newspaper. His reward for bravery is some public recognition and an additional assignment from Plummer: Find the arsonist who set the potentially fatal fire. The landlord even provides a long list of people who have it in for him. This new gig thrusts Cal into a more dangerous, though not unfamiliar, milieu as he and Frank go up against a potentially militant tenants-rights group and a faction of The English National Socialists (skinheads). The more he learns, the deeper into the muck he sinks.

Though the heavy vernacular and nonstop violence aren’t for everyone, Cal’s third rough-and-tumble first-person caper (Sucker Punch, 2009, etc.) should keep most readers rapidly turning pages till the solid plot builds to a payoff in late innings.