Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Runner-Up

SMALL CRIMES, by Dave Zeltserman

Once again, the Zeltserman delivers. Zeltserman's previous novels (FAST LANE and BAD THOUGHTS) received high praise, and his third effort - about a corrupt cop who gets out of prison wanting only some peace of mind - is equally gripping.

"If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it may also be lined with small crimes. Classic noir, dark, funny, shocking and absolutely no compromise. Pure magic of the blackest kind," said Ken Bruen. "Zeltserman delves deeply into his specialty, an unorthodox look at the criminal mind. It kept me turning pages and glancing over my shoulder," said Vicki Hendricks. "Small Crimes is a superbly crafted tale. Immensely subtle, and written with a rare maturity and confidence... This deserves to be massive," said Allan Guthrie. And the always reliable Maureen Corrigan of NPR made it her top choice (of five) as best mystery of 2008.

Joe Denton is a crooked ex-cop in Vermont who's just been released from jail after serving seven years for stabbing the local district attorney in the face. No sooner does Joe step out of the slammer than bad trouble comes to call. First, the scarred DA greets Joe outside the prison and announces that a local crime kingpin (and Joe's secret boss) is dying of cancer and has found religion. The kingpin's expected confession should send Joe straight back behind bars. Then, the local sheriff (also crooked) orders Joe to murder the DA or the mob boss before he can confess.

Great plot twists, a family straight from hell, lots of sharp and often hilarious writing. Who could ask for anything more?

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