The Tzer Island book blog features book reviews written by TChris, the blog's founder.  I hope the blog will help readers discover good books and avoid bad books.  I am a reader, not a book publicist.  This blog does not exist to promote particular books, authors, or publishers.  I therefore do not participate in "virtual book tours" or conduct author interviews.  You will find no contests or giveaways here.

The blog's nonexclusive focus is on literary/mainstream fiction, thriller/crime/spy novels, and science fiction.  While the reviews cover books old and new, in and out of print, the blog does try to direct attention to books that have been recently published.  Reviews of new (or newly reprinted) books generally appear every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Reviews of older books appear on occasional weekends.  Readers are invited and encouraged to comment.  See About Tzer Island for more information about this blog, its categorization of reviews, and its rating system.

Entries in David Gordon (2)


The Hard Stuff by David Gordon

Published by Grove Atlantic/Mysterious Press on July 2, 2019

This is the second book to feature Joe Brody, following The Bouncer. The story begins with Joe helping his boss, Gio Caprisi, clean up a loose ends from the first novel, a cleaning job that leaves a trail of dead bodies (not Joe’s fault, really). That chapter recaps the first novel so The Hard Stuff can easily be read as a standalone. I nevertheless recommend reading The Bouncer first, because it is — like The Hard Stuff — a fun book.

Joe’s efforts in the early pages invite the attention of an attractive FBI agent named Donna, who can’t decide whether to arrest Joe or take him to bed. She was in the same quandary by the end of The Bouncer. Joe knows what he wants to do, but since a hookup seems unlikely, he instead goes to bed with his Russian friend Yalena, another returning character from the first book. Yalena cracks safes and, like Joe, has a talent for killing people. Odd, then, that they are both such likable characters.

The plot, as in the first novel, has Joe thwarting terrorists. He has to do something redemptive, after all, or readers might not want to give him their time. The terrorists have come to the US to sell a large quantity of drugs that they stole overseas. They want to be paid in diamonds. That doesn’t make much sense, but never mind. The book is fun; it doesn’t need to make sense.

Joe’s mission is to steal a bunch of diamonds, use them to buy the drugs, then steal back the diamonds, all to thwart the terrorists. It might be easier just to steal the drugs and/or kill the terrorists, but that wouldn’t be as entertaining.

Crime fans always enjoy a well-planned jewel heist. That caper is followed by various armed confrontations, chase scenes, fights, and light-hearted mayhem. Joe’s relationships with Yalena and Donna add a touch of sex and potential romance, while action and snappy dialog keep the story moving at a suitable pace. Collateral characters, including Joe’s mobbed-up mom and his cross-dressing boss, contribute to the fun. The two novels in this series push all the right buttons for crime fiction fans, making The Hard Stuff easy to recommend.



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.