In the first novel of his Junior. Bender series, Timothy Hallinan takes a burglary with an exemplary career and turns him into one of the good guys a PI:
Junior Bender is Los Angeles burglar since he was 14 years old and breaking into houses has been a very lucrative past time for him. But now after 22 years of a "spotless" record he is set up on a job that he barely survives. Now that Junior has the main objective of a burglar don't get caught he is forced to work for mobster Trey Annunziato in order to keep his skin.Trey has an interested project for Junior protecting an once famous child actor Thistle and discovering who is trying to put the porn production shoot out of business. Although this is not Junior's usual gig he goes have some investigative type skills that are more towards the other side of the law. As Junior sets out he discovers that protecting Thistle from herself is going to be a challenge in itself, but coming out this job alive seems to be less and less likely.
Even though the beginning of the book was very entertaining, with the botched burglary and dogs trying to eat Junior it still took me awhile to become invested in the story and characters, but I'm glad that I stuck around with this book. It not only became very entertaining to read, but I really enjoyed the sarcastic tone that the book is told in by Junior. I will say that much like the TV show that is talked about in the book, the book really starts to shine when Thistle enters the picture. Thistle makes this book very entertaining, with her antics and child like behaviour that makes you think of a starlet or two who were child stars. I kept trying to decide which starlet that Hillinan used as his inspiration for Thistle.
Junior is an interesting character, he doesn't like to think of himself as a good guy as he is a master thief, but some of his actions definitely show him as the good guy. The way in which he "mothers" Thistle shows how much really really cares about people. He knows the difference between right and wrong in this situation and he does everything he can to prevent Thistle from hurting herself with drugs, but also help her stand up tot he press who hound her. Having Junior as the only voice in this book was the right choice by Hallinan, it made me like Junior so much more as he is very witty and he likes to play the dangerous side of things, for what he thinks is "right".
I liked that this book showed that Hollywood lifestyle can turn out to be so glamorous, and that things can go downhill really fast. I do not think that Hallinan lacks inspiration from the real world and I guess that really is the sad reality of Hollywood and I'm glad that Hallinan does not sugar coat it in his book. The book does show what drug addiction can do even to those who have the money to support that habit and what an addict will do to get the fix for that habit. He also shows the ruthlessness of the press and how they push people to their limits just to get a story or a picture.
Witty and satire are the best ways to describe this book and if you are looking for something in that tone this book is for you. While there are some slower parts within this book, I think that Hallinan is able to keep the reader really entertained with his cast of characters and it is his character development that will keep me coming back f or more.
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