Soho Crime. Nov. 2018. 384p. ISBN 9781616957483. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616957490. M
Junior Bender knows better, but he can't resist the $50,000 offered to retrieve a porcelain doll from an abandoned Los Angeles house, slated for demolition after the death of its reclusive owner. His long CV lists his profession as "property reallocation"; friends call him a burglar. Junior soon meets one of those old friends, who has been dispatched on the same mission. They are both unsuccessful, and she ends up dead. Junior unselfishly dedicates himself to tracking down all the culprits pro bono. There's a passel of characters, all cartoonish: anonymous client Bride of Plastic Man sports an unforgettable orange wig; professional killer Eaglet is the proprietor of One-Shot Solutions; Anime Wong can do no wrong with a name like that. It would seem that Junior likes to read on stakeouts—there are enough literary references for a bibliography. Margaret Millar, William Gaddis, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, and especially Arthur Conan Doyle all get a shout-out.
VERDICT This seventh series installment from Hallinan (In Fields Where They Lay), a sort of West Coast Damon Runyon who has been short-listed for about every mystery genre prize, displays his ability to spin the merest gossamer into an engaging, flip, 300-plus-page novel that goes down very smoothly.—Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO
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