Whiplash River

I thoroughly enjoyed Whiplash River by Lou Berney. It made me gasp and smile. It’s a romp, a caper, a slightly mad-cap thriller.

Opening line:

The view from the veranda was a killer.

A sugar-sand beach, palm trees, the Caribbean glittering beneath a full moon. A wooden pier curved out over the water, with a thatch-covered palapa perched at the end. Straight off a postcard.

Shake had bought the Sunset Breeze more than two years ago. You’d think he wouldn’t even notice the view any more, but he did. Every single time he stepped onto the veranda of the restatuant, his restaurrant, that was still his first though: Straight off a postcard.

Shake’s an ex-con who is trying to go straight. Unfortunatley, Shake’s one of those loveable guys that fate just seems to want to screw with, of course, his own decisions don’t help.

Shake’s Bad Ideas:

  1. Going in debt to the local drug lord, Baby Jesus, to open his restaurant. Baby Jesus wants paid, and he wants paid on time. Tough to do when when your restaurant goes up in flames.
  2. Turning to Quinn, an elderly man who is full of stories, when you’re in trouble.  After all, he almost got killed in the middle of your restaurant and now the assassins are after you too, along with a gorgeous FBI agent who wants to nail your former employer, the Armenian mob.
  3. Agreeing to a major score, stealing a historical American artifact currently in a collection in Egypt, conned into the heist by Quinn.
  4. Bringing in your dangerous, and very attractive ex-girlfriend to help with above score. After all it’s impossible without her, isn’t it?

Yeah, not the best choices, but it does make for a great novel, where events just keep spinning farther and farther out of Shake’s control. You have to love Shake, he’s charming, handsome, one of the good guy crooks. Quinn is a mysterious man, you don’t know how much of his stories to believe, but you know he’s bound to get Shake into trouble. And Gina, the ex, is a strong woman, smart, lovely, better prepared for life than Shake by far, and Berney plays with the romantic connection well. Not only do you want Shake and Gina to pull off the score without getting caught, you want them back together by the end.

Exotic locales, a larger than life cast of characters, a fast-paced plot and snappy dialogue made this my favorite read of the summer so far. It made me laugh and cringe, a good combo.

4½ out of 5 stars

Category: Crime fiction

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Charles “Shake” Bouchon #2
Published July 10, 2012 by William Morrow
320 pages

Book soure: For review

Charles “Shake” Bouchon Series

  1. Gutshot Straight
  2. Whiplash River


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