Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dying for the Highlife: A Dan Reno Novel by Dave Stanton

Jimmy Homestead's glory days a a high school stud were a distant memory.  His adulthood had amounted to little more than temporary jobs, cheap boarding houses, and discount whiskey.  But he always felt he was special, and winning a $43 million lottery confirmed it.

With all that money, everything is great for Jimmy- until people from his past start coming out of the woodwork.  First, his sexy stepmother, who seduced him as a teenager.  Then his uncle, just released from Folsom after a five-year jolt for securities fraud, a crime that bankrupted Jimmy's father.  Mix in a broke ex-stripper and a down-o-his-luck drug dealer, both seeking payback over transgressions Jimmy thought were long forgotten.

Caught in the middle are investigatory Dan Reno and his good buddy Cody Gibbons, two guys just trying to make an honest paycheck.  Reno, fighting to save his home from foreclosure, thinks that's his biggest problem.  But his priorities change when Gibbons and Jimmy are kidnapped by a gang of cartel thugs out for a big score.  Fighting to save his friend's life, Reno is drawn into a mess that leaves dead bodies scattered all over northern Nevada. (taken from the back of the book)

I love Dan Reno.  He's messy and complicated and has the most surprising luck, considering the scrapes he finds himself in.  As a character, he's absolutely fascinating.  He's real and gritty and brilliant and an idiot all at the same time.  He doesn't take any guff from anybody and he knows without making some bucks, he's going to lose everything.  Again.

I met Cody in the last Reno book and he sort of grew on me.  He's kind of a jerk and you get to see his schmuck side in this book.  He definitely comes out as a hero by the end though, which just made me cheer internally.

In Stanton's normal style, we start off with a big exciting hot mess.  It's a great 'what if' story and the most interesting people come out of the woodwork!  Some are good and some are bad and they all want Jimmy's money.  The problem is that most of the story, Jimmy has no idea that he's successfully evading all these people!  He's just out having a good time with everyone on his tail and just when they're about to catch him, he takes off somewhere else!  Jimmy isn't the brightest tool in the shed, and definitely not the most moral, but I found him pretty darn likable with a good heart hidden deep deep deep down inside.

At the end of this grand chaotic mess, we end with an explosive bang.  Once the blood starts flying, it really gets crazy!  I love Stanton's style of build up and then delivery.  As usual, Reno and Cody find themselves in a dire situation.  There's no definite survival and the local cops are riding them pretty hard.

Reno is one of my favorite literary detectives and once again he delivers in this book.  His charisma and wit go a long way towards making this a fabulous read.

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