2011; 321 pages. Book 1 (out of 19, soon to be 20) in the “Dev Haskell – Private Invesyigator” series. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Pulp Thrillers; Crime Thrillers; Mystery. Overall Rating : 8*/10.
It wasn’t the sort of business deal Private Investigator Dev Haskell would normally accept. Some girl named Kelli wants him to go find her sister, Nikki. She offers him a name, an address where the sister used to live, and a photograph. That’s all, and it's not much to go on. Dev’s not sure why he agreed to it.
Maybe it was the fact that Kelli is a ravishing beauty with a sexy accent, probably French. Maybe it was the fact that Nikki was a stunningly pretty redhead in the picture. Maybe it was that Nikki was also stunningly naked in the photo. Standing there in the altogether with three other similarly unclothed people. Why would somebody’s sister have that sort of photograph of her sibling?
No, it had to be some other reason. Like the five one-hundred-dollar bills that Kelli calmly reeled out and handed over to Dev to take the case. Which seems like some easy money to earn while looking for an easy-on-the-eyes runaway. Yeah, that was probably it.
Besides, what could possibly go wrong?
What’s To Like...
Russian Roulette is the first book in a “Pulp Detective” series by Mike Faricy, an author I’ve been meaning to check out for quite some time. The protagonist, Dev Haskell, is my kind of hero – snarky, self-deprecating, good at what he does (but not great), a hit with the women (until they get to know him) and always ready to do the right thing, as long as it pays well, involves food, or might lead to a roll in the hay.
The story is set in St. Paul, Minnesota, which I’m guessing is Mike Faricy’s stomping grounds. Needless to say, Dev soon discovers there’s much more to his assignment than meets the eye. The “finding Nikki” task soon evolves into “let's keep tabs on Kelli as well”, then to “why are all these people getting killed” and finally “why is somebody trying to kill me?” Dev is certainly going to earn that $500.
There’s lots of action to keep your interest. The mystery angle is not so much a “whodunit” as “how’s Dev going to bring the baddies down?” The book is written in the first-person POV (Dev’s) and there’s a whopping 83 chapters covering 321 pages, which means you’re always within a couple of pages for a convenient place to stop reading for the night. There are a couple rolls-in-the-hay, but nothing lurid. Cusswords abound, but I felt that fit in well with the gritty subject matter.
I chuckled at the Impound Lot scene. I know someone who worked in that field, and the depiction here is spot on. I had to look up who Ludwig Bemelmans was, but recognized his artwork once I did so. I was surprised to see the band Insane Clown Posse get mentioned, although I gather Mike Faricy isn't their biggest fan.
The ending is good, although not particularly twisty. That’s okay, since it’s the culmination of the combined efforts of several law enforcement agencies, assisted of course by Dev. The e-book version end at 70%, or 321 pages, with an additional 18-pages of a preview of the next book in the series, Mr. Swirlee.
“He apparently blew his brains out with a colt .45, then put a second round in what was left of his skull just to be sure. The .45 still in his hand, an unsigned, typewritten note stuffed in his pocket.”
“That said some bullshit about seeing the error of his ways, a life of sin, asking forgiveness. If I recall it was about three sentences long.” Aaron licked donut crumbs from the tips of his fingers.
“And you’re not buying it?”
“Well, for starters, all the words were spelled correctly and it wasn’t written with a color crayon.” (loc. 504)
“So, Dev, what is new, have you found out anything for me?” she asked, sort of shrugged her shoulders, and smiled innocently. She was anything but.
What’s new? I thought. Aside from you not answering my phone calls? How about I’ve been shot, chased, arrested, poisoned, I’ve still got whisker burn on my inner thighs, my beverage of choice is now Pedialyte and the last woman I spoke with for more than twenty minutes was run over by a Lexus LX11. (…) Instead I said, “Oh, you know, not much, same old same old,” trying to act coy. (loc. 1898)
Russian Roulette currently sells for $3.99 at Amazon. All the other e-books in the series go for $3.99, except for the soon-to-be-published Book 20, which is on pre-order sale for $2.99. Mike Faricy has started a new series called Hotshot, and its three books are also $3.99 apiece. He also offers “bundles” (Books 1-7 and Books 8-14) in the Dev Haskell series for $9.99 each, which is quite the good deal.
“Three years of med school and I’m wiping your ass. Have a nice day.” (loc. 2553)
There were only a couple nits to pick, but they're minor.
The characters seemed all either black or white, although in fairness, I have to say that some of the black-hats were on the good side, and some of the white-hats were with the baddies.
The storytelling seemed to me to be a bit “loose”. I never did fathom the reason why someone was trying to kill our protagonist, since the obvious suspects are counting on him to find the missing girl. But hey, it gave added excitement to the storyline, and that can’t be bad. Similarly, the food poisoning scene didn’t seem to contribute to the plot, but it was funny as all get-out.
Finally, some Amazon reviewers gave the book low ratings because they really didn’t like the main character. Dev Haskell reminds me of the Bruce Willis character on that 1980’s TV series, Moonlighting. He gets beat up, shot up, blown up, and stood up, yet somehow ends up saving the day. Every reader is entitled to his or her own opinion, but personally, I like that kind of hero
8 Stars. All in all, I found Russian Roulette to be a captivating book that kept me turning the pages to see what was going to happen next. I’m eager to see what Mr. Swirlee is all about, and it’s sitting on my Kindle, part of a seven-book bundle, waiting for my attention.