Monday, November 16, 2009

Losers Live Longer - Russell Atwood


When this book came out a few months ago, it got quite a bit of attention because of its great horizontal cover by Robert McGinnis. Then people actually read the book and realized that LOSERS LIVE LONGER is one of the best private eye novels of recent years.

This is the second appearance for Russell Atwood’s New York City PI Payton Sherwood, but it’s been ten years since the first one, EAST OF A. Sherwood isn’t very successful as a detective, at least not financially. He’s living in his office, which is almost bare of furniture because he’s sold everything to get by. Then he gets a phone call from a well-known, retired private eye offering him some work, and since Sherwood needs the money and also is eager to work with this guy, he accepts.

Problem is, the old PI is killed on his way to Sherwood’s office. Like all good fictional private detectives, Sherwood sets out to investigate the death, even though he doesn’t have a client. This sets into motion an extremely complicated plot involving beautiful women, missing millions, mobsters, drugs, blackmail, and close to a dozen murders. And it’s all packed into less than twenty-four hours of time!

The writing is fast and funny and contemporary, with the plot turning on things like USB drives and skateboards, but at the same time it’s pure BLACK MASK. Remember the passage from an old pulp story that Ron Goulart quotes in the introduction to THE HARDBOILED DICKS, where the detective goes on for almost a page explaining the incredible twists and turns of the story’s plot, then concludes, “Simple. Got it now?” That’s what LOSERS LIVE LONGER is like. Plus there’s a little Mike Hammer influence thrown in, since Sherwood is motivated by wanting to find out what happened to the older PI even though he doesn’t have a client. (Although Sherwood and Mike Hammer are about as different as they can get in every other respect.)

I had an absolutely wonderful time reading this book and highly recommend it. Like some other bloggers whose reviews I checked out, I immediately went on-line and ordered the first one in the series so I can read it, too. And I sure hope that it’s not ten more years before Russell Atwood writes another Payton Sherwood novel, because LOSERS LIVE LONGER is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

7 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

And another book on the pile. Hard to pass these up at the price.

Laurie Powers said...

Wow - very cool. With a recommendation like yours, hard to pass up. Plus it's got Cher on the cover!

Cullen Gallagher said...

I picked this up when it came out but haven't read it yet. Looks like I need to rearrange my TBR pile.

Randy Johnson said...

I enjoyed this one and ordered the first one as well. Equally good. I, too, hope a little less time goes by before another appears.

Frank Loose said...

I read the first one when it first came out and while I don't remember the plot, i do remember liking the book. I have had the new title sitting on my TBR pile since the book came out. Hard to believe i have not read it yet, if for no other reason than the cover. Thanks for posting the review.

As for the Cher comparison ... Could'a done without that!

GeoffS said...

I didn't know there was an earlier novel -- will have to pick that one up as well!

Carl V. said...

I picked this up the moment it came out because of the wonderful McGinnis cover. I'm so glad to hear that the story is worthwhile as well. Sometime in the middle of 2010 I'll no doubt get my annual jones for detective fiction and it is great to know that when I pick this one up that I have a real chance at being satisfied with it.