Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Johnny Shaw, all-American

I'm also quite enjoying my second piece of post-Bouchercon reading, Johnny Shaw's Big Maria. Shaw is the man behind "Blood and Tacos, featuring Chingón, the World's Deadliest Mexican," and anyone capable of coming up with that title, much less a story to go with it, is worth watching out for.

Big Maria is the story of a mammoth caper planned by three of the biggest screw-ups in all of crime fiction. The novel's first three sections have the outsize japery of "Blood and Tacos," but Shaw makes his misfit gang touchingly self-aware and endows them with optimism that is positively all-American.

And he does it all without losing the book's hard edge. When the characters get hurt, man, do they get hurt. When they get drunk, man, do they get drunk.  But somehow you'll wind up laughing.

I hope I'm not overanalyzing if I detect tributes to David Goodis in those early chapters as well as to Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes and the Parker novels he wrote as Richard Stark. Overanalysis or not, the influence hunting is just a small part of the fun.

Now, back to my reading.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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