Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
Almost-there nightclub owner, ex-soldier and all-round Irish hard nut Dan McEvoy is about as happy as he feels he should be. He’s living in New Jersey, has a sort of boyfriend/girlfriend relationship going on with Sofia Delano (although she keeps confusing him with her late husband, Carmine, which is a little off-putting, especially when it comes to getting close-up and personal); his nightclub, Slotz, co-owned with Jason, is nearly ready to open; and he’s still alive, which is always a plus point given his history and facility for getting into trouble.
Then he receives a call from his smooth-talking friend and doctor-with-Botox, Zeb Kronski, to tell him that a certain Mrs Madden has died back in Ireland, taken by a bolt of lightning while climbing over a stile with a ski pole in her hand.
Which means his ‘alive’ state might not last much longer.
Because Mrs Madden is the beloved mother of local maniac and NY hoodlum, Mad Mike Madden. And through various misunderstandings and exchanges of threats between them, Dan is only alive and walking as long no harm comes to Mrs Madden.
Worse, her son hasn’t got the nickname ‘Mad’ for nothing.
I’ll say it now: this is a great read with a crazy cast of characters, echoing (for me, at least) Spillane and Janson in the hard-case department, but with great humour and dark asides as Dan finds himself threatened, set up, betrayed, nearly drowned, beaten up and mostly, surprised by the number of people who seem out to get him.
The one-liners come thick and fast – ‘(Zeb) could get the Dalai Lama to shoot dolphins.’ And ‘He says f*** more times than the Pope says Jesus… and the Pope says Jesus a lot, especially when people sneak up on him.’ ‘He’s gotta voice like a bear went to elocution classes in Texas.’
It’s fast, funny and furious and even the bad guys are good as they try to take down our hero and prove he’s not as tough as they think he is.
Underneath the laughs, violence and mayhem, however, is a carefully woven hint of ennui as Dan faces a few hard truths about life and love… and the fickle fingers of fate and family members who turn up like bad pennies when he most needs to concentrate on staying in one piece and trying to get happy.
If you like your crime fiction leavened with dark humour (I kept thinking of the film ‘In Bruges’) and characters that reach right off the page and grab you by the imagination, this is a great example.