Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Such a Wicked Year for Crime

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Such a Wicked Year for Crime

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Sanderson


THE most enjoyable crime novel of the year was Don Winslow's The Winter ofFrankie Machine (Heinemann, [pounds sterling]11.99) about a former mafia hitman forced out ofretirement. Action sequences that put your heart into your mouth alternate withlonger, just as tightly written chapters that detail how a nice Italian boyback from Vietnam fell in with the Mob. Vegas nights, floating orgies,shakedowns and shootings galore were no doubt some of the ingredients that haveprompted director Michael Mann to work on a screen version with Robert De Niro.

William Landay's The Strangler (Bantam, [pounds sterling]12.99) was an impressive successor tohis awardwinning Mission Flats. It figures three Irish brothers in 1960sBoston: Joe, brawny rather than brainy, has followed in his policeman father'sfootsteps; Michael, plagued by migraines, is a lawyer seconded to the StranglerBureau; and Ricky is a brilliant lock-picker who makes a big mistake when hesteals some diamonds belonging to the Mob.

The whole family becomes involved in a web of corruption that does not excludethe famous serial killer. The result is a gripping, grown-up tale, punctuatedby shocks, that leads to a shattering conclusion.

Joseph Wambaugh made a triumphant return to the novel after 20 years withHollywood Station (Quercus, [pounds sterling]14.99). As in The Choirboys (which was published30 years ago) he assembles a motley crew of copsthe hypochondriac, the wannabe actor, the grizzled veteran, the rich-boy rookieand a pair of surfer dudesthen follows them as they meet with all manner of weirdness in La-La Land.

The main narrative deals with a pair of tweakers (crystal meth addicts) and anArmenian armed robber whose paths cross in an inevitably fatal way. Dozens ofsmall incidentsfeaturing tourist hustlers dressed as Goofy, insane hobos and tranny streetwalkersgive the proceedings the unmistakable whiff of appalling, hilariousauthenticity. …

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