Due to BBAW and the fact that I am reviewing approximately a million books this month, there will be no Movie Monday today. If you are broken up about this, please tell me so that I know people like the feature. If you are cheering about this, please tell me so that I know people don't like the feature.
By Niall Leonard
Available tomorrow (Sept 11) from Delacorte Press (Random House)
CRUSHER was so obviously a generic thriller title that I paid it little attention. Imagine my surprise when it was relevant to the story in multiple ways. It's one of the many ways CRUSHER was a pleasant surprise. It landed on my porch not too long ago, but caught my attention because it had been overnighted. That's not usual for an unsolicited review copy.
The included letter started by talking about Niall Leonard's wife, E L James (FIFTY SHADES OF GREY) and mentioned he'd just written CRUSHER last November. That made me a touch wary, concerned that CRUSHER had been rushed into production due to Leonard's association with infamy. And, okay, I still assumed that happened, but CRUSHER can stand on its own merits.
Quick note: I read the UK text. I don't know if the US version will be any different, but generally references to salad on sandwiches and such is changed. Now back to the review.
Finn Maguire doesn't have much hope for the future. He works in fast food without much hope of advancement since he dropped out of high school. He can't read well due to dyslexia and a lack of academic encouragement. He lives in squalor with his father, an out-of-work actor who talks about becoming a screenwriter but never manages to sell any of his work. Coming home from work one day, Finn finds his father murdered. The police suspect Finn, leading him to start his own investigation.
Soon, Finn is mixed up with the biggest gangster around and getting by day-by-day now includes not getting killed himself. I really liked Finn's character. He's determined and clever, absolutely terrific at improvising, but he's not that smart. He's got a strong moral center too. He'll defend himself and he'll lie to get to the truth, but he's not the kind of guy who leaves a trail of collateral damage. He doesn't like letting people he doesn't like get hurt if he knows he can stop it.
I love a good crime drama, and that's exactly what CRUSHER is. It's sordid and filled with characters you can't trust and utterly absorbing. I loved following Finn's quest to catch his father's killer. Fantastically, he isn't a great detective. He's brilliant on stumbling onto trouble and pretty lucky he took all those boxing lessons, but he doesn't yet have an instinct for putting the pieces together. He can still make it work.
I think I read CRUSHER in less than two hours. I ate my breakfast on Saturday, settled down to read, and didn't come up for air until I was done. Few books catch my attention that thoroughly anymore. Mystery fans, thriller fans, boxing fans: check out CRUSHER. It's quite a ride.