Author: Timothy Hallinan
Date Read: October 24, 2013
Series: Junior Bender #1
Summary: Junior Bender is a Los Angeles burglar with a magic touch. Since he first started breaking into houses when he was fourteen years old, he’s never once been caught. But now, after twenty-two years of an exemplary career, Junior has been blackmailed by Trey Annunziato, one of the most powerful crime bosses in LA, into acting as a private investigator on the set of Trey’s porn movie venture, which someone keeps sabotaging. The star Trey has lined up to do all that’s unwholesome on camera is Thistle Downing, America’s beloved child star, who now lives alone in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable. Her starring role will be the scandalous fall-from-grace gossip of rubber-neckers across the country. No wonder Trey needs help keeping the production on track.
Junior knows what that he should do—get Thistle out and find her help—but doing the right thing will land him on the wrong side of LA’s scariest mob boss. With the help of his precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Rina, and his criminal sidekick, Louie the Lost (an ex-getaway driver), Junior has to figure out a miracle solution.
Review: I've read a handful of Hallinan before and have never been overly impressed or disappointed. Most of his books for me are just ok. Relatively entertaining, but I could take them or leave them. This one was different though and I think it was because I really liked Junior. I'm not sure exactly what it is about him that I like. He's a crook, so normally you would assume his moral compass is skewed but you quickly realize it actually isn't. Sure, he steals from people. But he also has a big heart which is apparent when you start to meet his fellow crooks and his family. A lovable crook, who knew!?!
I also really enjoyed Thistle. Yea, she was a hot mess. But it was completely understandable how she got there. I'm sure I'm not the first and I won't be the last to comment on this, but she reminded me of Lindsay Lohan. A child who star who was misguided from a young age and is just looking for something she can't find. But Thistle is crazy talented and a fighter which is why she is also endearing.
Most of the extraneous characters were relatively enjoyable. The plot was a little weird. It centers around an adult film and crime in LA but it's easy to get hooked in this story once you meet Junior and Thistle. You want the best for both of the main characters and the author does a good job of taking you on a ride in order to figure out where they will end up. I would recommend this over all of the other Hallinan books I've read at this point!