Lou Malloy has an unusual problem on his release from a 15-year bid in a Georgia prison. No one has been able to find the $15 million that Lou and his two partners (now long dead) stole from an Indian casino—and people think Lou can lead them to it. Indeed, during Lou's exit interview, the warden points out that he could collect a $1.5 million reward from the insurance company if he turned in the money. Lou isn't buying that.
Dead Money Run
by J. Frank James is the most recent mystery in the "Lou Malloy crime
series." It is a hard-boiled thriller that reminded me of Micky
Spillane. It is a book of short chapters and almost unrelenting
excitement as Lou and Hillary Kelly avoid cops, kill mobsters, and try
to unravel the mystery of who killed Lou's sister and why.
meets Hillary at two in the morning at the Jacksonville, FL, bus
station in Chapter 6 on page 20. (I said these are short chapters.) "The
girl was really a woman and who could pass for eighteen about ten years
ago. She had crow's feet at the corners of each eye and her complexion
had seen more than its share of sun. Pulled down in front of her face
was a floppy hat that made it difficult to get a good look at her. She
looked attractive, in a cute sort of way." Going through Hillary's purse, Lou establishes that she's a PI, but doesn't kill her.
no time, Lou and Hillary are a team; Lou has found the hidden $15
million and taken walking around money from the cache; recovered guns
and ammunition hidden with the money; and murdered two low-level
mobsters and fed them to the crocodiles. The mob is interested in Lou
because it had been using the Indian casino to launder money, and the
Georgia family really, really wants the $15 million back.
the body count rises, the story grows more and more complex. Lou has to
connect with a buddy from prison for some added muscle. The story of
the sister's death becomes more mysterious. The US Homeland Security
Agency may be interested in what Lou and his partners stole. Lou murders
without remorse or compunction because he feels (with justification)
that if he doesn't, his enemies will murder him. James does not,
however, describe the deaths in detail, something I regard as a form of pornography.
is able, even with a complex plot, to keep the threads clear and the
action moving. And while the writing is not fancy—indeed most of the
book is dialogue—James can sketch a character in a few lines. Writing
about a very bad man he says, "Jack Bellay reminded Angel [a not quite
as bad man] of a coyote in his appearance. He had narrow eyes and a long
nose and a mouth the size of a bee's ass. His father told him to never
trust a man with a small mouth." Angel should have listened to his
Readers who enjoy a hard-boiled mystery and are not put off by literary violence will enjoy Dead Money Run. I found it a hoot.