cover image Rock of Ages: A Junior Bender Mystery

Rock of Ages: A Junior Bender Mystery

Timothy Hallinan. Soho Crime, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64129-218-4

In Hallinan’s outstanding eighth novel starring burglar Junior Bender (after 2018’s Nighttown), L.A. mobster Irwin Dressler needs Bender to do him a favor. Dressler has invested money in a concert tour featuring obscure bands organized by “four of the killers, extortionists, leg-breakers, kidnappers, armed robbers, and threat specialists who made up his former social circle.” Dressler believes that one of them has been siphoning off the profits and that two near-fatal accidents to two of the touring musicians may have been attempted murders. Complications ensue since Bender’s investigation coincides with time allotted to spend with his teenage daughter, Rina, who’s unaware of his actual profession. When a drummer is seriously injured during a performance after a stage set wall falls on him, Bender finds evidence that the rope suspending the wall was tampered with, thus validating Dressler’s suspicions. Hallinan’s sharp-edged prose (a character has “lips sharp enough to turn a kiss into a paper cut”) and facility for making even assassins likable enhance a complex puzzle. Both newcomers and fans will be delighted. Agent: Bob Mecoy, Bob Mecoy Literary. (June)