Monday, May 26, 2008

Occupational Hazards-Jonathan Segura

Occupational Hazards
Jonathan Segura
Simon & Schuster, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416562917

Reporter Bernard Cockburn works the crime beat for the Omaha Weekly News-Telegraph; though in his late twenties, Bernard is already burned out with only alcohol and some questionable drugs enabling him to walk the mean streets of Omaha. His lover pregnant Allison demands he grow up by giving up the booze and drugs for the sake of their unborn, but so far that haze is the only thing that keeps him obstinately working; he detests her nagging and prefers she rid them of the fetus especially in light of all the sh*t they have used.

His current interest beyond the latest foolishness of Police Detective Dick, an apropos name if their ever was one, is a strange downtown land deal that smells of city kickbacks. His efforts to learn why LLC is buying decaying property meet roadblocks and official bureaucratic stalling; he struggles to even identify the group members. However everything turns dark when LLC board members die after he interrogates them; soon Bernard links their homicides to a vigilante neighborhood watch cleansing the streets brutally and lethally of drug and sex traffickers.

Bernard is not likeable; in fact he is reprehensible with his irresponsible and uncaring nature. However, in spite of his only desire being the next hazy high, readers will appreciate this antihero whose asides are poignant from a negative outlook. His dissertation on motive is on target as befitting a depraved cynic who feels there is nothing a person will not do. The inquiry is fun to follow as Bernard stays in character with his dirty purple haze outlooks throughout while walking the streets of Omaha and while fighting with Alison over the rug rat growing inside her. Not for everyone, purebred urban noir fans will welcome this unwelcome protagonist.

Harriet Klausner