Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review of Smoked by Patrick Quinlan (2006, Headline Review)

Lola Bell is twenty five and has gained a karate black belt after being raped as a sixteen year old in a Chicago project.  Mr Shaggy and Mr Blue Eyes advertise for models, who on turning up for the audition are raped on film, but they get more than they bargain for when Lola decides to try her hand at modelling.  ‘Smoke’ Dugan is Lola’s boyfriend and a former professional arsonist, but after one of his devices was used to kill a plane load of innocent people, he assassinated his employer, stole 2.5 million dollars, faked his own death and fled to the small, coastal town of Portland, Maine.  Only Smoke has been spotted and a team dispatched to take him back to New York.  Denny Cruz is the gun for hire charged with the task, though he’s rapidly losing his appetite for killing those that cross the mob.  To accompany Cruz is Moss, a man mountain enforcer, and Fingers, who boosts cars and enjoys the odd bit of torture.  Smoke manages to evade the first attempt to snatch him and the team turn their attention to Lola and her demure librarian flatmate, Pamela.  As does Mr Shaggy and Mr Blue Eyes, who want revenge for the havoc created by an angry Lola.  So unfolds a sequence of bluffs, abductions, car chases, beatings and trades, as everyone tries to stay alive, escape or exact revenge.

I thought the opening chapter of Smoked was excellent.  If the whole book had managed to keep up the same pace and style it would have been a cracker.  As it was, the following chapters got bogged down in back story and manoeuvring characters into position rather than driving the story along, before picking back up in the second half.  Once it does pick-up it careens along nicely to the end.  Quinlan is particularly good at creating a set of larger than life characters that are well penned.  Scenes are generally well told, especially those with action in, and the dialogue is credible.  I can easily see the story converting to the big screen.  Overall, a book that didn’t quite live up to the promise of the opening few pages but nonetheless an enjoyable read.  


pattinase (abbott) said...

Maybe I will pick this up on Friday. Four years might count since someone did Money Shot last week.

Rob Kitchin said...

Patti, should have a review of John D. Macdonald's The Green Ripper for Friday (assuming I get my act together to write the review by then).