Saturday, June 25, 2016

"Shake" Bouchon Returns in Another Excellent Tale from Lou Berney

This is the second very entertaining novel from Lou Berney featuring Charles "Shake" Bouchon, who first appeared inGutshot Straight in 2010. Shake is a former wheel man and ex-con who's determined to put his checkered past behind him. He's made his way to the Caribbean paradise of Belize and realized his life-long dream of opening a restaurant. 

It's a lot of work, and building a successful enterprise like this takes time and money. To make ends meet, Shake has borrowed money from a violent drug lord known as Baby Jesus. He's in danger of missing his next payment, and this could lead to serious problems. But this restaurant is a labor of love, and Shake couldn't be happier until one night a gunman barges into the restaurant in the middle of the dinner hour and attempts to shoot an elderly customer. Shake intervenes and saves the customer, breaking the gunman's nose in the process. But in doing so, he effectively blows up his own island dreams and puts himself in considerable jeopardy.

The assassin's target is a gentleman of the old school named Quinn who appears to have stepped directly out of the pages of a Ross Thomas novel and onto the stage in this book. He claims to have been involved in nefarious adventures in various parts of the world over the years. Maybe he was with the C.I.A.; maybe he was on the other side of the law; maybe both. It's not exactly clear.

Quinn attempts to enlist Shake in his next grand scheme and, against his better judgement, Shake agrees. What follows is an excellent adventure that sounds like a mash-up of Elmore Leonard and the aforementioned Mr. Thomas. There's action galore, exotic locales, interesting and very dangerous adversaries, and--even better--some interesting and very dangerous women. It's a lot of fun and a worthy sequel to Gutshot Straight, although any reader contemplating this book would certainly want to read "Gutshot" first.

Lou Berney won the coveted Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for his novel, The Long and Faraway Gone, and he's clearly a rising star in the crime fiction field. The guy can't write books fast enough to suit me, and any fan of crime fiction who hasn't yet discovered him will be very happy to make his acquaintance.

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