Thursday, February 21, 2008

Read: "Hose Monkey" by Tony Spinosa

Read: Hose Monkey by Tony Spinosa (pen name for Reed Farrel Coleman), 2006, 1932557180.

Very good writing, I was impressed after a handful of pages. I'm not so sure about the plot.

Joe Serpe is a disgraced NYPD detective who lost his wife after he lost his job and then lost his fireman brother on 9/11. His life has been in limbo for the three years since. He lives in his brother's old basement apartment, never reads the newspapers, has no friends and drives a delivery truck for a home heating oil business on Long Island. After a retarded co-worker is murdered in the oil company lot Joe starts looking into what happened.

I enjoyed reading the story and following the several twists and turns in the plot. But after I finished I started to wonder if the wandering plot line should bother me. At first the suspect is a Haitian thug who worked at the victim's group home. Then a vicious Latin gang, seemingly based on MS-13, may be at fault. Then the suspects are an anti-immigration group leader and his son. You eventually get to the Russian mobsters at fault.

Since I enjoyed the novel I guess I have no reason to complain. Except the novel seems to be trying to do so many things at once. Immigration issues, rapists, Russian thugs, ex-cop versus current cop, love story with ex-cop, unrequited love, buddy teaming of ex-cop and former persecutor, father-son dynamics, corruption, 9/11 aftermath.

The two things that really bothered me during reading was Joe Serpe and a psychologist hooking up and immediately getting serious. That felt forced. The killer of the victim ended up being a minor player in both the entire criminal enterprise involved but made little mark in the novel at all until revealed as the culprit. That was kind of okay since the overall conspiracy was more important but not okay because the killer's first notable appearance is at the end of the novel.

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