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Victor Gischler: Suicide Squeeze


Crescent Blues Book Views Delacorte Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0-385-33725-6

Book: victor gischler, suicide squeeze
Conner Samson, the down and out anti-hero of Victor Gischler's Suicide Squeeze, belongs to that group of men who, to quote Thoreau, "lead a life of quiet desperation." Prone to making bad decisions and blaming the unwelcome consequences on bad luck, Samson finds himself desperately searching for a way to scrounge up enough money to buy groceries and to pay an overdue gambling debt. His only bit of good fortune lies in his long friendship with Fat Otis, the enforcer for Rocky Big, a small-time crime boss and holder of Samson's gambling debt. Temporarily spared a beating thanks to Otis' intervention, he reluctantly takes a job repossessing an expensive sloop named "Electric Jenny," but his usual run of bad luck continues.

In 1954 Teddy Folger's father managed to get the signatures of Mickey Mantle, Marilyn Monroe, and Billy Wilder on a mint condition Mickey Mantle baseball card. This irreplaceable piece of baseball memorabilia draws the apt attention of two Japanese billionaires each with a passion for collecting symbols of American culture and staying ahead of one another in the uniqueness and value of their collections. Ahira Kurisaka, a member of the Uakuza Japanese Mafia , decides to make the card the next centerpiece of his collection.

Complications arise when as part of an insurance scam Teddy Folger reports the card destroyed in a fire and collects the insurance. Before Folger can leave the country aboard his sloop "Electric Jenny," he meets with foul play at the hands of Kurisaka's henchmen. In the act of repossessing the boat, Samson uncovers elements of the scam and finds himself trapped in the middle of a deadly international tug of war.

Keeping his eyes squarely focused on the possibility of instant fortune, Samson bungles and muddles his way into and out of life threatening situations. With the help of his old buddy Fat Otis, Joellen Becker, a close to psychotic disgraced former NSA operative, and a former lover with the unlikely name of Tyranny Jones, the escapade ends in a violent and bloody showdown.

Like previous Gischler novels, Suicide Squeeze comes chock full of oddball characters and a fast paced narrative spiced with a pleasing helping of dark humor. I find that contemplating the reading of the newest Gischler novel reminds me in some ways of the anticipation I felt as a young boy when I regularly took part of my hard earned weekly allowance to the corner store and "invested" in packs of baseball cards. I don't know what images will pop up next, but I can be sure a packet of gems lies in wait somewhere inside just waiting for my discovery. This edition doesn't disappoint.

Clint Hunter

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