Friday, February 10, 2012

An Author You Should Read

I just finished reading Michael Van Rooy's two novels, An Ordinary Decent Criminal and Your Friendly Neighborhood Criminal. If you like books of the action / crime genre, you owe it to yourself to read these two. I picked up the second book at the library on a whim, started reading, and finished it in a day. Then I went back for the other volume and did the same thing with that. Sadly there aren't any further novels forthcoming, since the author died suddenly in 2011.

So what are the books about? They tell the story of Montgomery "Monty" Haaviko, a self-declared "bad man" trying to go straight and make a life for his family. Once a thief, junkie, and smuggler, Haaviko does his best to live a quiet normal life, but fate has other plans. The first novel begins with Haaviko confronting three thieves that have broken into his new home. Let's just say things don't go well for the thieves and Haaviko's history becomes public knowledge, leading to ugly situations with police, neighbors, landlords, and local criminal elements. In the second book Haaviko is pulled into a smuggling operation that gains the notice of local criminal elements. He's forced to defend the operation from these outside interests as well as a Smiley, an old friend from prison who wants to go straight too.

Van Rooy's prose is brisk and effective, moving from scene to scene and situation to situation with fluid grace. Haaviko is a dark character with a wicked sense of humor and a solution for every problem. If you're familiar with Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles, consider Haaviko as one of Corwin's shadows on Earth, a shadow with a darker history, but retaining Corwin's skewed view of fair play. Maybe Caine would be a better comparison, I could certainly see Haaviko faking his own death to get to the bottom of a bad situation.

Bottom line: Solid modern action-crime novels filled with clever plots and plans, dark humor, and a fun main character. Read on!

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