Winslow's book, Adrian McKinty's novels and James R. Benn's Billy Boyle series owe more to Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Defoe than they do to Arthur Conan Doyle, and that's just great. When it comes to crime writing, let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred gats send hot lead pills past the hero's startled noggin. If it has a crime in it, it's crime writing, and here's a toast to the varieties of crime fiction that haven't been invented yet. I'll welcome them when they arrive.
Winslow's book is a story of intentionally mistaken identity with a nice twist at the end that you might figure out, but I did not. Among the chief virtues of its peril-fraught journey is its humor. My favorite example involves an evil German:
"A second later they hear the explosion, then see a tower of red-and-orange flame shoot up.The Death and Life of Bobby Z is crime fiction because its protagonist, Tim Kearney, is a criminal, sprung from a long prison term and almost certain death on the condition that he impersonate the notorious drug dealer Bobby Z. It's an adventure story because he meets an even more notorious drug dealer, a ruthless cowboy, a degenerate people-smuggler, bikers who lack any sense of restraint, a herd of trumpeting elephants, and DEA officers you would not want to mess with. And yes, he gets the girl in the end.
"Johnson can't help himself. `Your friend,' he says, `he wasn't one of them rocket scientists, was he?'
"`I mean, back in the old country?'"
What are your favorite crime stories that also make the grade as adventure tales? And what makes an exciting adventure story? Here's a clue to get you started: A good adventure story needs a righteous hero, and Tim Kearney is righteous, even though he has slit a Hell's Angels throat with a razor-sharp license plate as the story opens. (The guy deserved it.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2010