"Exceedingly funny . . . this one's good for what ails you."—The New York Times
Reluctant P.I. to the perfidious, Junior Bender, may be L.A.’s smoothest operator but when he breaks one of the cardinal rules of burglary (don’t take scores that you’re being paid way too much for) he finds himself once again on the wrong side of, well, the wrong side.
Los Angeles burglar Junior Bender has a rule about never taking a job that pays too well: in the criminal underworld, if you’re offered more money than a job is worth, someone is going to end up dead. But he’s bending his rule this one time because he and his girlfriend, Ronnie, are in desperate need of cash to hire a kidnapper to snatch Ronnie’s two-year-old son back from her ex. The whole thing is pretty complicated and has Junior on edge.
The parameters of the job do nothing to calm his nerves. A nameless woman in an orange wig has offered Junior fifty grand—twenty-five up front—to break into the abandoned house of a recently deceased 97-year-old recluse, Daisy Horton, and steal a doll from her collection. Junior knows no doll is worth 50K, so he figures there must be something hidden inside the doll that can get him in a heap of trouble. It doesn’t take long for Junior to realize he’s not the only one looking for the doll. When an old friend ends up murdered, Junior decides he will stop at nothing to figure out who the woman in the orange wig is, and why she wants the doll badly enough to leave a trail of bodies in her wake.
Edgar finalist Hallinan's suspenseful, well-crafted seventh Junior Bender mystery (after 2016's Fields Where They Lay) finds the L.A. burglar/investigator, who has worked on the wrong side of the law for more than 20 years, desperate for money to help his girlfriend, Ronnie Bigelow. Ronnie's two-year-old son, Eric, has been taken from her by the boy's father, "a New Jersey mob doctor," and Junior needs major funds to pull off his plan to reunite Eric with his mother. In desperation, he agrees to break into a house last occupied by the late Daisy Horton, a nonagenarian known as the "Cruella de Vil of fading Los Angeles gentility," to retrieve a doll for an unidentified client. Junior comes up empty, as does the rival seeking the same item he encounters in the creepy Horton house. Junior's lack of success, combined with the murder of the other burglar shortly after she leaves the premises, leads Junior to seek the truth behind his commission and its connection with what he did find rare first editions, including an autographed copy of Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Hallinan's top-notch prose and plotting are reminiscent of Lawrence Block and Elmore Leonard.