Publisher: Soho Crime (November, 2018)
Kindle edition: $14.99
A Junior Bender mystery (Book 7)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Darkness is usually a burglar’s best friend, but the darkness in Horton House is overwhelming. The recently deceased owner of the house, Miss Daisy Horton, was an unlikable invalid who became more and more paranoid throughout her long life. She’d covered all the windows in brown paper. The only light is Junior’s pathetically small penlight. The thin thread of light it cast leaves most of the rooms in shadow. Acute hearing is another prerequisite for the successful housebreaker, necessary for detecting human activity, but the century-old home is alive with creaks, groans, crackles and pops. The place is supposed to be uninhabited, scheduled to be pulled down in three days’ time, but Junior takes nothing for granted.
A new client has hired Junior to recover an antique doll, offering twenty-five thousand dollars upfront and the same amount on delivery. His bullshit detectors are on full alert: being offered such a large payoff for such a seemingly simple job meant there was more to it than he’d been told.
He’s right, of course. He searches the whole house thoroughly – except for the creepy basement – with no joy. By the time the night is over, he discovers that he’s not the only high-class burglar on the hunt. An old acquaintance on the same search isn’t any more successful than Junior is, failing in spectacular fashion. The bad guys who attacked her are on his trail as well.
If Junior doesn’t come up with the goods, his ass is grass. He might have passed on the suspect gig if he and his lady friend Ronnie hadn’t needed the money to rescue her son from her mobster ex-husband’s heavily fortified compound.
When a friend from the past is murdered, he has all the more reason to track down the person who hired him, the nameless woman in the orange fright wig. With a little help from his resourceful friends and a few acquaintances with more felonious skills, he takes his anger to the streets.
Junior Bender is possibly the smartest, and certainly the most well-read burglar in Los Angeles. This West Coast noir writer includes plenty of wit in his latest well-plotted and thoroughly enjoyable novel. Highly recommended.
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