Thursday, April 30, 2020

Review of Finnegan’s Week by Joseph Wambaugh (1993, Bantam)

Forty five, three divorces under his belt, and still searching for his big acting break, Fin Finnegan is half-hearted in life and his work as San Diego cop. His life though is about to get a bit more interesting – there’s a television show shooting in town and he knows he’ll be perfect as the hitman, and a case comes his way that sees him partnering with a Navy detective, Bobbie, and an environmental crimes cop, Nell, neither of whom think he’s a total loser. The crime involves the theft of some shoes by two truck drivers who were picking up hazardous waste from the Navy yard. They take the truck south to Mexico to offload their haul, dumping the waste and selling the truck. After two kids prize open one of the drums their perfect plan starts to unravel. As does the plan of the waste company boss who’d falsified the manifest, omitting the inclusion of Guthion, a lethal chemical. Fin will be pleased to solve the case; landing a part in the television show and one of the women would be the icing on the cake. Wambaugh spins the tale as a darkly comic caper, with plenty of humour, banter dialogue, and dashes of violence, though with few twists or turns. The truck drivers’ mismatched double act, and the Fin, Bobbie, Nell triangle provide strong character dynamics, and there’s a good sense of place and juxtaposition of San Diego and Tijuana. An engaging, often amusing procedural.

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