CRASHED by Timothy Hallinan: Book Review

Timothy Hallinan’s PI novel CRASHED launches what may well be one of the most exciting new private eye series to come along in years. Already optioned for television and film, CRASHED introduces Junior Bender, “the favorite burglar-turned-private-investigator of Hollywood crooks.”

Since he first started breaking into houses when he was fourteen years old, Junior’s never once been caught by the law. In CRASHED he is blackmailed by Trey Annunziato, one of the most powerful crime bosses in LA, into acting as a private investigator on the set of Trey’s porn movie venture, which someone keeps sabotaging. The star Trey has lined up to do all that’s unwholesome on camera is Thistle Downing, America’s beloved child star, who now lives alone in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable. Her starring role will be the scandalous fall-from-grace gossip of rubber-neckers across the country.

Junior knows what that he should do—get Thistle out and find her help—but doing the right thing will land him on the wrong side of LA’s scariest mob boss. With the help of his precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Rina, and his criminal sidekick, Louie the Lost (an ex-getaway driver), Junior has to figure out a miracle solution.

CRASHED is Hallinan at his comedic best. A 2011 Edgar Nominee, Hallinan’s ten previous novels, all thrillers, have received high critical praise. In the 1990s he wrote six mysteries featuring the erudite private eye Simeon Grist, a series which made several Ten Best lists, including that of The Drood Review. Now regarded as a cult favorite, the other books in the series were widely and well reviewed, and several of them were optioned for motion pictures. In 2007, the first of his Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers, A NAIL THROUGH THE HEART was published to unanimously enthusiastic reviews. “Hallinan scores big-time,” said Kirkus Reviews, which went on to call the book “dark, often funny, and ultimately enthralling.” “Nail” was a Booksense Pick of the Month and was named one of the top mysteries of the year by The Japan Times and several major online review sites. Rafferty’s Bangkok adventures have continued with THE FOURTH WATCHER (2008) and BREATHING WATER (2009), THE QUEEN OF PATPONG (2011) and THE FEAR ARTIST (2012) all of which have appeared on several “year’s best” lists.

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