Friday, August 8, 2014

Review of Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson (Tyrus Books, 2014)

Boo Malone and his best friend, Junior, survived the hell of St Gabriel’s Home for Boys.  They now run their own company, 4DC (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap), providing security for a handful of grungy pubs/nightclubs.  Boo and Junior mostly work the door and floor of The Cellar, a hangout for misfits, policing antics with a mix of banter and menace.  Occasionally things get out of hand, in part due to Boo’s anger management issues, but mostly they coast along.  Then they are hired to find Cassandra, a runaway misfit teenager whose politically powerful father wants her found before any scandal reflects onto him.  Seduced by a large fee, Boo and Junior take the job.  It soon becomes clear that Cassandra has fallen into dangerous hands and Boo becomes fixated on finding and saving her whatever the cost.

Hard Bounce is a hardboiled noir tale of friendship, exploitation, violence and compassion.  Robinson writes in tight, expressive prose, capturing the dark world of Boo and Junior, two men who survived growing up as orphans in boy’s home and now eke out a living running their own security company bouncing pubs/nightclubs.  There is a good dynamic between Boo and Junior and the characterisation through is nicely developed.  Boo, in particular, is well portrayed, a large, hard man with anger management and self-loathing issues, haunted by his past and concerns as to what happened to his sister after the death of his parents.  The plot is a typical PI tale concerning the hunt for a misfit, rich kid who’s disappeared into Boston’s underbelly, but the twist is that Boo and Junior are bouncers, not detectives.  What they do have, however, is an inside track on Boston’s darker side, street wits, and a set of tight friends.  The theme around underage sexual exploitation is dark, but so is that world.  Boo’s single-mindedness and his refusal to share information or seek help is pushed to an extreme perhaps, but worked as a plot device to ratchet up the tension.  The real pleasure of the story is Boo and Junior’s banter and friendship and tracking them through their dark and lethal adventure.

1 comment:

Anonymous-9 said...

I read one of the early variations of this ms back in 2009 when Todd was exhausted from having deal after deal explode for THE HARD BOUNCE. Nobody ever worked harder to see his book get realized and I was thrilled to attend Todd's first Mystery Galaxy book signing in 2013 when it finally came out. In hard back, no less.
Good to see you review the tale, Rob. Thank you.