on 18 August 2011
This is an exceptional debut novel from Michael Lamendola who is an actor and a cruise ships singer when he is not being an author. `Dirty Work' is set in San Diego where Lamendola lives and his knowledge of the city and its areas is extensive and in clear evidence here. This reads like a modern day Raymond Chandler novel but with much more humour.
Lamendola states he is influenced by Stuart Woods, author of the `Stone Barrington Series' (the title of this book is a homage to Woods). With this work it is clear that he has developed his own distinctive assured style.
Sal and Buddy are two friends living in San Diego; Buddy is deciding what to do with his life after inheriting money from his deceased mother whom he cared for. Sal is an aspiring private detective. On a particularly bawdy night out the two fall foul of Mexican mobsters. This particularly unpleasant incident is just the start of their troubles.
The hapless duo soon find themselves between a rock and a hard place as they are thrust right in the middle of a dangerous dispute between a terrifying local thug known as `Grip' and the `Fat Man' the head of a crime family. Their lives of leisure at the Red Fox bar with friendly long suffering barmaid Wendy and ageing piano player Freddy is rudely and abruptly brought to a halt. They have no choice but to enter a Faustian pact or see their lives violently ended.
This is an excellently conceived crime thriller with its sharp depiction of the seedy underbelly of San Diego. Lamendola takes the reader on a wild tour of the city and writes so vividly that you will feel that you have been there yourself by the end of the novel.
The characters are well fleshed out and the banter between them is both amusing and convincing. I laughed aloud on several occasions at the hapless Sal and Buddy and their escapades together. Despite being unlikely heroes they are both endearing and I found myself rooting for them.
It's not just the appealing central characters that makes this such an enjoyable read, the novel is packed with a whole cast of world weary colourful creations. The humour and observations range from the wry and sardonic to the outright hilarious.
There is also a heroic amount of drinking and as the bullets and gags fly there is even time for romance with the alluring and delectable Dr Janet Gilpin (it is always handy to have someone around with medical knowledge when you are in this amount of trouble!) There is plenty of frenetic adrenalin fuelled action, a street racing sequence and a card game in particular had my heart pounding.
Despite the violence and brutality this novel has a real charm thanks to the scattergun delivery and rhythm of the characters conversations. There are lots of jolts and twists and Sal and Buddy need all their guile and wits to stay ahead of the game and more importantly to stay alive!
For a thriller with a mixture of mirth and menace I cannot recommend `Dirty Work' enough. I have not been this enthralled or this helpless with laughter in a long time. Bring on the next Red Fox novel!
on 21 January 2013
THIS BOOK IS BRILLIANT! THE WISECRACKS,THE ACTION,THE CYNICALLY HUMOUROUS DELIVERY OF THE "HEROES", IT IS A MODERN DAY VERSION OF THE BEST OF RAYMOND CHANDLER.EVEN THE BAD GUYS GET YOU CHUCKLING,AND IN SOME INSTANCES,DOWNRIGHT GUFFAWING WITH LAUGHTER! (THE USE OF THE "F" WORD & THE "S" WORD FROM ONE OF THE VILLAINS HAD ME BROKEN UP WITH LAUGHTER!).I'M ONLY HALFWAY THROUGH IT, BUT AM HERE ON AMAZON LOOKING FOR MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR. A GREAT PITY THIS SEEMS TO BE HIS FIRST BOOK UP TO NOW, BUT IT WOULD MAKE AN EXCELLENT TRANSITION TO THE MOVIE SCREEN.AND, EVEN BETTER, IT WAS A FREEBIE ON KINDLE! A REAL GEM.