Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review of The Devil Doesn’t Want Me by Eric Beetner (Dutton Guilt Edged Mysteries, 2012)

For 17 years, Lars, a mob hitman, has been tracking Mitch the Snitch, a numbers man who sought refuge with the Feds witness protection program.  He keeps his hand in, doing the odd side job, but Mitch is his primary target, though he remains elusive.  Regime change back East, means a young, brash kid arrives in New Mexico to work with the aging hitman.  The kid has inside info from a mole in the Feds as to where to find Mitch.  Lars and Trent are chalk and cheese, taking an instance dislike to each other, but the kid’s information is right on the money.  Approaching fifty, with almost as many kills to his names, arriving to do the hit  Lars’ realises his outlook on life has changed.  And when Mitch appears with a daughter in tow, he balks at having to murder the child as well.  Instead, he snatches the girl and makes a run for it, his sole aim to keep himself and her alive.

The Devil Doesn’t Want Me is a noir, road trip story, tracking the flight of an aging hitman and the daughter of his long-term target as they make their way from New Mexico to Los Angeles.  The story is well plotted, with Lars becoming increasing reflexive and the action and tension building as the tale unfolds, and the resolution is nicely played out.  There were a couple of points where Lars’ judgement seemed a little off, especially the sojourn into Las Vegas, but they did not detract from the story and worked to create an entertaining set of events.  The telling is all show, with a nice mix of dialogue and action, and is darkly humorous at times.  The characterisation is strong, as are the social relations between Lars and his younger rival, and with the daughter.  Overall, a fun and entertaining read that makes one dream of dashing across the desert in a 66 Mustang.

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