In the aftermath of a kidnapping insurance scam, Frank is in hospital with a shattered leg, the crimimally insane Rossi is having his ear tended to by a vet whilst being watched over by his narcoleptic friend Sleeps , Anna the wolf is regretting not ripping Rossi’s whole head clean off, Anna’s owner Karen is looking to skip the country with the money and the reluctant thief Ray, Doyle the cop assigned to the case is suspended but still wants justice, Madge the kidnap victim is looking forward to a nice Mediterranean cruise with Terry, the guy who set up the scam, and Melody a porn script writer is looking to spread her wings and pen a full length decent crime movie script. Karen and Ray are heading to Greece to meet up with Madge to split the proceeds, but where the money goes, everybody follows, all desperate to get their hands on the cash and each other.
I’ve been trying to decide how to describe Crime Always Pays. I guess it’s a screwball, crime caper, road trip noir. And very well done it is too. Burke weaves a tale that does not rest, with the action starting on the first page and not letting up until the final sentence. The story follows the intersecting trajectories of two handfuls of well penned, memorable characters as they set out from Ireland to the Greek island of Ios, swirling round each other trying to bag the proceeds of an insurance scam and each other. Laced with a big dollop of humour, there are bluffs, backstabbings, double crosses, and twists and turns galore. The story pretty much has it all – electric pace, good dialogue, tons of action, great characters (particular the double act of Rossi and Sleeps), clever plotting, and a strong sense of place. I had only had two issues really. The first is the extent to which someone who hadn’t read The Big O would be able to follow what was going on. This is very much a sequel, starting immediately where the first book ends, and it is framed in that context. I suspect it might be fine, but my advice is to read The Big O first (you won’t regret it). The second is the thread following Madge seemed a little underdeveloped and disconnected from the others. And I’m picking hairs here. If Burke’s new book Absolute Zero Cool is as good as this then it’ll be a cracker. Hopefully it’ll catapult him to the kind of success he deserves.
P.S. this book is available for Kindle on Amazon for the criminally low price of 87 pence or $1.47. Talk about a bargain. Get buying and reading.