Sunday, October 18, 2009

London Boulevard-Ken Bruen

London Boulevard
Ken Bruen
Minotaur, Nov 24 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312561680

Minutes before Mitchell is to be freed after spending three years in prison for an assault he did not remember committing due to a drunken haze, the warden tells the fortyish convict he will be back. Mitchell hides the terminator retort and steps outside knowing he looks like a shifty felon. Working for loan shark Tommy Logan, Billy Norton arrives to pick him up, but Mitchell wonders if this acquaintance can be considered a friend though he is there to take him home.

Logan has plans for Mitchell, but the ex con does not have a compulsive need for quick money and is obsessed with not being a recidivism statistic. Mitchell obtains a handyman position at the Holland Park estate of aging movie actress, Lillian Palmer. As he struggles with adjusting to her odd butler Jordan, those close to him begin to die from an unknown adversary who soon threatens his beloved but insane sister Briony and others like Aisling and even a dog. Mitchell’s obsession about staying out of jail has turned compulsive but no one hurts Briony.

With plenty of dark humor throughout, Ken Bruen pays violent homage to Sunset Boulevard with this fast-paced Noir. Each of the key cast members contains differing personalities, but the story line belongs to the anti-hero who just wants to go straight yet finds himself swimming in a foggy sea of sordid sleaze as those good citizens are as nasty as the those he met behind bars and rival those muscles working for Logan. With more blood spilled than a downtown Emergency Room like Atlanta’s Grady, fans who don’t mind hearing the breaking of bones will want to read Mr. Bruen’s gloomy view of London.

Harriet Klausner