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Herbie's Game    by Timothy Hallinan order for
Herbie's Game
by Timothy Hallinan
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Not only is Junior Bender an accomplished burglar but the Hollywood thief is also often enlisted to assist other underworld figures in dealing with little problems that might come up from time to time. It might be pushing the envelope to call Junior the crook's investigator but that's what he actually is.

This latest assignment is a personal one because Junior's mentor, Herbie Mott, has been killed, which means Junior is determined to find the person responsible. To do this it will be necessary to discover who is eliminating the people who appear on a list of contacts used to set up professional hits.

As one might expect there's really no honor among thieves even though the old cliché suggests the opposite. You'll meet underworld figures with colorful nicknames like Wattles, Dippy, Handkerchief Harrison, Stinky and Bones, and wander all over greater Los Angeles as Junior charts his travels with roadmap precision.

Unfortunately, Junior's rambling narrative gets a little away from Hallinan. What ostensibly began as a novella turned into a 100,000 word, 382 page treatise that probably would have benefited from some judicious editing. Junior is prone to lapse into too many philosophical moments which detract from the story, plus there are too many times when it seems the protagonist has lost his way and the action sputters to nearly a standstill.

If you have read Hallinan's previous stories you'll probably plow through this one too, but he may try your patience from time to time. Quite honestly, there have been better novels in this short, four book series. If it is to continue I think the author will have to refocus and tighten up his narrative. If he doesn't, he runs the risk of losing some of the loyal fans who expect more of the tight plots that made the earlier thrillers so entertaining.

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