cover image Count Me Out: A Novel of Suspense

Count Me Out: A Novel of Suspense

Russell James. Foul Play Press, $22.95 (363pp) ISBN 978-0-88150-384-5

Even before his brother Scott steals 2 million, kills a man and disappears, Jet Heywood, rough-edged hero of James's knock-out new mystery (after Slaughter Music), has problems. Mainly, they focus on how to make enough money to feed and clothe his eight-year-old daughter, Stella, and keep the social workers at bay. Jet, a former boxer, and Stella begin a nomadic life with a carnival where Jet boxes in ""he-man"" contests and tries to keep a low profile. But Gottfleisch, the man who masterminded the robbery, thinks Jet knows where his brother and the money are. Gottfleisch and his pedophilic minion, Ticky, resort to any means--including kidnapping Scott's family, pouring gasoline on a child and threatening to set him on fire--to locate the money. James lays boxing details on a bit thick, but he has also created an entirely loathsome and creepy pair of criminals (bringing to mind Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre in their roles in The Maltese Falcon) who balance the plucky and admirable father-and-daughter team of Jet and Stella. (Apr.) FYI: Count Me Out was published in England in 1996 by Serpent's Tail Press.