My first book finished in 2014 is a mystery by a new-to-me author, Timothy Hallinan. Crashed introduces professional burglar Junior Bender who has been in the business for two decades without ever getting caught. Until now.
His latest heist, stealing a Paul Klee painting (while holding off four vicious-crazy Rottweilers), is captured on security film. This leads not to jail but to being blackmailed into helping the head of an organized crime family. Trey Annunziato wants to produce an adult film trilogy that will make her enough money to get her out of the business of crime once and for all. Production on the film is being sabotaged and it is up to Bender to find out who is messing with the schedule. If he doesn't, those Rottweillers are going to have a Bender Dinner. Complicating matters, the film's star is to be one Thistle Downing, beloved former child television star and now a down and out junkie, who has a habit of disappearing.
I know this sounds bleak, but it's not. Mr. Hallinan has fun poking fun at just about every profession in the Hollywood film industry, Los Angeles traffic, the above mentioned Rottweillers, coked-up art collectors, crooked cops, the tabloid press, and stage mothers.
Junior Bender may be a crook but he also knows how to do the right thing. I found him to be witty and charming. And, of course, he is very resourceful and fixes everything in the end.
Mr. Hallinan has two other series. One features Simeon Grist an English professor turned private eye which bears looking into. The other stars Poke Rafferty who lives in Bangkok. There are also two more Junior Bender books to add to my list, Little Elvises and The Fame Thief.
It is always best to start a new year with a laugh or two and Junior Bender provides plenty of them.