Review: When a list of disconnects — couriers intended to put an untraceable trail between someone who orders a hit and the person paid to do the job — goes missing from the office safe of San Fernando businessman Wattles, he hires Junior Bender — the one person he knows can find who took it, if indeed he didn't take it himself, in Herbie's Game, the fourth mystery in this series by Tim Hallinan.
The first and last chapters, and a handful of scenes in-between, are — according to an Afterward — the basis for a novella that the author was asked to write. That would have been an interesting story to read. Herbie's Game as published, not so much. The storyline basically consists of Junior visiting one of a colorful cast of characters, having an extended conversation with him or her, before moving on the next. Some of the conversations prove to be insightful; consider the following dialog between Junior and a cop, discussing the late Herbie Mott:
"How many times you been convicted, Bender?"
"Never." I saw where this was going and it took all I had not to try to get out of the room before we got there.
"Junior … ask yourself how I knew you were a burglar. How every cop in this building knows you're a burglar. Just think about it."
But most of the conversations are just lengthy banter, and not even entertaining banter. And the resolution to the missing disconnect list seems just a little too pat … though the reading of Herbie's will just a chapter later almost compensates with an unexpected — and possibly the book's only — twist. Junior Bender is an original character, best enjoyed in the midst of a clever crime caper, something that may be inferred from the title but is sadly missing from Herbie's Game.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided a copy of Herbie's Game for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Fame Thief
Soho Crime (Hardcover), July 2013
ISBN-13: 9781616952808; ISBN-10: 1616952806
For The Dead
Soho Crime (Hardcover), November 2014
ISBN-13: 9781616951146; ISBN-10: 1616951141
Location(s) referenced in Herbie's Game: Los Angeles, California
— ♦ —
Herbie's Game by Timothy Hallinan — A Junior Bender Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: July 2014
List Price: $25.00
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites