Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Your Friendly Neighborhood Criminal, by Michael Van Rooy (hardcover, $24.99)

Of course I'm only thinking of myself here. Sob. It is next to impossible to get A Criminal to Remember, the third book in the series written by Michael Van Rooy. It's probably because he was Canadian, and legal rights and red tape snarled everything up when he died unexpectedly last year. He was much too young. Death is not respectful of talent.

While we're waiting for Criminal to become untangled and scooped up by a U.S. publisher, however, we can sing Van Rooy's praises for his spectacular first book, An Ordinary Decent Criminal, and this book, his second, Your Friendly Neighborhood Criminal, which continues the story of Monty Haaviko, reformed (sort of) thief, burglar, armed robber, con artist, smuggler, drug dealer, jailbird.

What has a guy got to do to go straight? His former and current worlds conspire to make it very difficult for Monty to live a normal, middle class life with his wife and infant son. (And with his dog, Renfield, and unnamed mouse.) An ex-con with a history of violence finds it very difficult to find a job, which is why Monty is currently employed as a babysitter. One of his charges is the son of a police officer he met under more adversarial circumstances in the first book.

When Monty is approached to open up a smuggling operation between Canada and the U.S., this time to help refugees seeking asylum, he has to seriously weigh what sort of impact this could have on his walk down the straight and narrow.

After Monty decides to take on the challenge of developing a supply line for the refugees, he also develops a serious problem with Sam, a drug dealer. Knowing Monty is the best at this sort of thing, and having heard about his latest project, she wants the line for herself and her drugs. Now Monty must outwit the border patrols AND the local drug wacko.

That's not enough stress, so let's throw in an ex-mate from Monty's bad old days, Smiley. Smiley is only smiling when he's beating the stuffing out of someone. He's a well-slithered snake, a many-horned devil, a card-carrying romper-and-stomper. That was then. Now he wants to go straight. He wants Monty's help.


The only way for the right people to come out alive is to have on hand knives, darts, grenades, a gun or five, and a saber.

There is a great deal of humor in the book … and a great deal of violence. Van Rooy strikes the right balance and it's a terrific combination.

I had A Criminal to Remember briefly in the store. I should have read it then. Now it's selling for mucho dinero on various websites. Rats!

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