on 6 April 2014
This is the third book I've read in the Munch Mancini series and I've really enjoyed all of them. 'No Man Standing' is an exciting tale of murder and mayhem, as various unsavoury characters try to get their hands on a batch of counterfeit money, pursued by the police and the FBI. As some of these characters are past acquaintances of Munch's from her days as a junkie, she inevitably gets caught up in the chaos. She doesn't come through completely unscathed, but she's a tough lady, and may even have found love by the end of the book.
I've grown to like Munch, and I'll definitely be reading more of the books in this series. If you've not read any of them before, I'd recommend you give them a try - but my advice would be to start with the first in the series, and take it from there.
In NO MAN STANDING, ex-bad girl Munch Mancini is now eight years down the straight and narrow after giving up alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, and bikers. An ace auto mechanic and owner of a struggling limo business, Munch is moving into a new house with her adopted daughter, Asia, when an old friend in need shows up.
Ellen Summers was Mancini's best gal-pal in the rough old days, and is just released from her latest stint in the California Institution for Women, a penal facility. Summers is being sought by vicious killers who want returned a very large sum of counterfeit Franklins that she found and hid before her most recent imprisonment. The first bodies in a growing pile are those of Ellen's Mom and stepfather. Meanwhile, Munch is being harassed by the jealous ex of a poor choice of lovers, and she doesn't need the heavy baggage that Ellen has brought to her and Asia's doorstep.
By design or not, assigning Ellen a major role in this fifth book of the Munch Mancini series was true inspiration by author Barbara Seranella. Summers is at least a pale reflection of Seranella's protagonist before she became a contributing member of society. For those steady readers of the series, who perhaps thought that Munch was becoming too middle-class, or for those being introduced to Munch for the first time, Ellen is a much-needed reminder of Mancini's former low-life edginess. That aspect, plus the ending plot twist of NO MAN STANDING, extends my interest in the series as a whole, the storylines of which will need to be unpredictable to keep me returning for more. While the last chapter gives a too obvious hint to the evolution of Mancini's love life in the next book, I trust the author will surprise us.
The back flap of NO MAN STANDING reveals that Barbara Seranella ran away at fourteen from the showcase upper middle-class enclave of Pacific Palisades, CA, joined a San Francisco hippie commune, rode with outlaw bikers, and became an auto mechanic. Since I also spent several idyllic childhood years in Pacific Palisades before my uneventful and unrebellious teens, I wish we could sit and compare notes to determine where I went wrong.