Dynamite Road Hardcover – Nov 15 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
What a shrewd manipulator Klavan is. The author of True Crime and Don't Say a Word again pushes our buttons with unerring finesse. In San Francisco, there's a detective agency, Weiss Investigations, run by Scott Weiss, an ex-cop whose "deep, baggy, sympathetic eyes" have seen it all. When Weiss finds out that Bernie Hirschorn, co-owner of an aviation company several miles north, is up to his propellers in skullduggery, he dispatches one of his operatives, Jim Bishop, to find out what's up. (In one of Klavan's acerbic, cut-to-the-chase observations, Hirschorn is introduced as a VBM-Very Bad Man-with "lots of money, drug connections. A lot of dead bodies on his way to the top.") Adding to the highly charged scenario, Bishop gets involved in a steamy affair with the wife of Hirschorn's chief pilot, another rogue in a lengthy cast of villains that would do Raymond Chandler proud. Meanwhile, back at the agency, Weiss continues to nurse a crush on a mysterious beauty named Julie Angel-or is she really Julie Wyant, and did she take a header off the Bay Bridge, as rumor has it? And just who is the nefarious Shadowman (who "was real whether he was real or not"), and will he find Julie before Weiss can? Klavan's riveting blend of mystery, wiseass attitude and old-fashioned moralizing makes for a wild ride.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Klavan, who likes to try new things, wanders over into Jim Thompson territory in this tough-talking, sexy thriller. Even the title suggests a Thompson novel: explosive, violent. But this is no pale imitation of someone else's work; it's flashy, exciting, and altogether original. Jim Bishop is a private eye checking out a pilot at a local airport; a handsome man with an eye for the ladies, he considers it part of his job to seduce the pilot's wife to get information. Meanwhile Bishop's boss, Scott Weiss, has a case of his own: his archenemy, a hired gun who calls himself Shadowman, may be back in action. Can Weiss keep an eye on his operative at the airport and still focus on bringing down a killer? Filled with characters straight out of a 1950s potboiler, this rip-roarin' story is tailor-made for hard-boiled fans with a soft spot for the pulp masters--Thompson, of course, but Cornell Woolrich and David Goodis, too. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
When Bishop learns that the Shadowman's target is the mysterious Julie Wyant, aka, Julie Angel, a redhead whose beauty tends to intoxicate men's minds, and that the only man who knows her new identity and location is in protective custody in a high tech maximum security prison, he realizes where the Shadowman is going or already is.
Weiss tries to rein his agent in, knowing that he's gotten involved with Kathleen, a married woman, in order to gain intel on her pilot husband who works for Hirshhorn, the murderous leader of a criminal conspiracy and the man who hired the Shadowman. But Bishop's wiles get him into the heart of the operation and defeat any attempt to save him from his own fearless hide.
In the realm of the action thriller, humor and irony are qualities that set a book and its author apart. To illustrate that in this case, here's an excerpt. Bishop had just saved Kathleen from certain death and she saved him from the same fate by grabbing the killer's gun. She holds it on Bishop, the man who has broken her heart.
"Kathleen thought so too, she thought she just might shoot him too. She sure as hell wanted to. She had shot that other man, Goldmunsen, after all, and she had felt really good about it. If she shot Bishop she thought she would feel even more good. Shooting people seemed to work for her. In fact, she was sick and tired of not shooting people."
Bishop, operating undercover as Frank Kennedy, enjoys living on the edge He pushes Chris to the limit by seducing his wife and spreading rumors about his drinking in hopes that he (Bishop) will be hired to replace Chris as the pilot for the big job that Hirschorn has planned.
In the meantime, Ben Fry, whom we later realize is also know as the Shadowman, has gone to great lengths (even to implanting a device under his skin that won't show up in strip searches) to get himself imprisoned in the most secure prison in California, one reserved for incorrigibles and extremely violent offenders.
Weiss, during the course of another investigation, realizes that several people have been killed or have disappeared in seemingly unrelated events, and he finds a startling connection. They are all related to Whip, a man who specialized in creating new identities for criminals, identities so secure that once created, no law enforcement agency has been able to penetrate them. Whip, having knowledge of who became whom, is terrified that he may also have become a target, so he is placed in deep protective custody in a maximum security prison (guess what's coming?).
The book is a little unusual in that we see the story evolve from three points of view: Bishop's, Weiss's, and the first-person narrative of another Weiss employee. He stands in awe of Weiss's understanding of human nature. The narrator, whose name we never learn, inadvertently solves the Case of the Spanish Virgin and discovers some key elements of the case against the Shadowman. If this all sounds a little hokey, I suppose that's because it is. Still, a very entertaining read.
Klavan uses the green P.I. (referencing him as the author himself) effectively and the shifts between what's going on with Bishop and Weiss are intriguing. Weiss' character, who has a thing for prostitutes, also finds himself enamored with the enigmatic Julie Wyant, a woman who supposedly jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. But he's sure this beautiful woman is still out there, given a new appearance by the Identity Man.
There's a lot going on in this book: why would this killer Ben Fry want to be imprisoned in a high-tech, no escape prison? Why does he put this mysterious capsule into his thigh?
A very entertaining book, and if the subsequent Weiss/Bishop novels can continue this refreshing change of pace, they should all be dynamite!
Klavan introduces the Weiss Agency with Jim Bishop and Scott Weiss, detectives who live and work in a gritty, rugged world. There is very little sentimentality here and cruel, disturbing things happen and these unorthodox detectives will stop at nothing to achieve their goal, even venturing beyond their client's wishes, once they become involved in this marvelous adventure.
The author clearly is fascinated by the intricacies of flying small planes and the mechanics of flying unifies the story, making this book a must read for anyone with a similar interest.
Klavan has written another exciting book, with a twist. Returning to much earlier days, he has invented characters who promise to return, hopefully in the near future.
Most recent customer reviews
This is the first novel I've read by Andrew and I have read 130 thrillers in the past year. 10 occupy my "hall of fame" shelf. Dynamite Road makes it 11. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2003 by Kindle Customer
Andrew Klavan, one of this country's most creative writers, wrote Dynamite Road as the first in a much anticipated series following heralded stand-alones including The Scarred Man... Read morePublished on Dec 2 2003 by Robert E. Hurlbett
I really wanted to like this book. I have read Klavan's other books and very much enjoyed them. However, this book is a major disappointment. Every character is a cliche. Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2003
Known by employees, clients, and the author's family as the Agency, Weiss Investigation is a San Francisco private detective firm. Read morePublished on Nov. 7 2003 by Harriet Klausner