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The Bouncer by David Gordon

Published by Grove Atlantic/Mysterious Press on August 7, 2018

The Bouncer is a fun, fast-moving, light-hearted thriller. The premise is that the FBI and the NYPD are coming down hard on criminal organizations in New York because their anti-terrorism details can’t catch any actual terrorists, so going after organized crime (on the contrived theory that their money laundering and drug dealing somehow abets terrorism) is the next best thing. To get back to business as usual, mob boss Gio Caprisi offers to help the FBI catch terrorists in exchange for leaving his businesses alone. That sounds like something that could easily happen, given the uneasy history of coziness between the FBI and the Mafia.

Meanwhile, Joe Brody is working as a bouncer at one of Gio’s places. He gets involved with a robbery (ripping off some arms dealers) that goes wrong, but he manages to rescue a fellow criminal from the clutches of an attractive FBI agent. That gets him invited to help with another caper, this time stealing a sample of a new perfume from a vault. Or at least that’s what he thinks he’s stealing. That crime also goes wrong in a way that proves there is no honor among thieves.

Bouncers have a good bit of down time when the strippers aren’t on stage. Joe uses his time productively by committing crimes, evading law enforcement, and reading classic literature. Eventually, Gio has him take on some terrorists.

David Gordon writes action scenes in a cinematic style. He gives Joe the kind of personality that a criminal protagonist should have — flawed, a bit beyond concerns about society’s norms, but fundamentally decent when it counts. Other characters, particularly the FBI agent who gets under Joe’s skin, have enough personality to make them interesting.

This novel is the first in the “Joe the Bouncer” series. Fans of intelligent, action-driven crime novels will likely enjoy it. I look forward to reading the second installment.


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