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Steve Brewer: Boost

 

Crescent Blues Book Views Speck Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0-9725776-5-3

Book: steve brewer, boost
Sam Hill is a professional car thief. Boosting cars provides his main source of emotional stimulus… with the possible exception of his romantic yearnings toward his fence, Robin Mitchell, daughter of the fence and car thief who mentored Sam way back in the days before he found anything worthwhile to do with his life. In turn, Sam mentors the youth Billy Suggs, teaching him not just how to be a car thief but the artistry of the profession. Sam specializes not in common or garden variety theft but in stealing, under commissions channeled through Robin, of rare and collectible items.

It's a good life until the day Sam discovers the body in the trunk of the Thunderbird he just stole. First, he needs to get rid of the corpse before the cops come (perhaps literally) sniffing around. But he faces a much bigger problem. The whole situation smacks of a setup: someone wants to land him in serious trouble, including a possible murder rap. That someone must be stopped before they try something, well, worse.

Aided by Billy, Robin and Sam's man-mountain friend Way-Way, Sam soon traces the line back to seedy car fence Ernesto Morales and beyond him to drug kingpin Phil Ortiz, who, it proves, seek revenge for the time Sam boosted one of his prized collection of vintage cars. The makeshift team of buddies find themselves taking on Ortiz and Ortiz's equally murderous army of thugs in a tit-for-tat war of thrust and counterthrust, all the while keeping out of the clutches of both the local and the federal cops. This is not a war Sam intends to lose, even though just capitulating and getting out of town could well be the wiser course. But to win the war he'll need to be very inventive indeed.

Boost offers the reader modern, straightforward, fast-moving, no-nonsense caper fiction at something close to its finest. The characters are beautifully and economically drawn, in the best noir tradition -- not just the major players but also the supporting cast, including notably the cops Stanton and Delgado and their federal counterparts Brock and Jones (an especially delightful creation). At times the text proves as laugh-out-loud funny as anything by Donald E. Westlake; at other times it reads as grim as anything by Westlake's auctorial alter ego Richard Stark. Always possessed of a lively wit and intelligence, Boost would make a marvelous movie.

I thoroughly recommend this little gem of a novel.

John Grant

Click here to read Clint Hunter's review of Boost.

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