Junior Bender, the clown prince of crime fiction, returns in his most hardboiled adventure yet—a tale that will take Junior Bender deep into a murderous conspiracy in present day Los Angeles and uncover an increasingly confusing legacy of his burglar-mentor, Herbie Mott, who until very recently was always one-step-ahead of just about everybody.
It’s everyday business when Wattles, the San Fernando Valley’s top “executive crook,” sets up a hit. He establishes a chain of criminals to pass along the instructions and the money, ensuring that the hitter doesn’t know who hired him. But one day Wattles finds his office safe open and a single item missing: the piece of paper on which he has written the names of the crooks in the chain. When people associated with the chain begin to pop up dead, the only person Wattles can approach to solve his problem is Junior Bender, professional burglar and begrudging private eye for crooks.
But Junior already knows exactly who took Wattles’s list: the signature is too obvious. It was Herbie Mott, Junior’s burglar mentor—and when Junior seeks him out to discuss the missing list, he finds Herbie very unpleasantly murdered. Junior follows the links in the chain back toward the killer, and as he does, he learns disturbing secrets from Herbie’s hidden past.
Junior Bender takes on his most personal case yet in Hallinan's rollicking fourth mystery featuring the master safe and joke cracker (after 2013's The Fame Thief). When Wattles, a notorious crook based in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, realizes that he's missing a very important piece of paper, a list of all the "disconnects," or shady men, he hired to pull off a job, he asks Bender to retrieve the document. Bender's first stop, however, ends in tragedy: when he calls on his mentor and father figure, Herbie Mott, he finds that Herbie has been tortured and killed. Herbie taught Bender everything he knows about stealing, but Bender is in for a shock when unsavory details of Herbie's life come to light, with all-too-real consequences for the wisecracking thief and those close to him. Hallinan injects what could be a stale revenge tale with his signature dry wit, making Bender a laconic antihero to admire.