Monday, December 11, 2006

ALL SHOOK UP by Mike Harrison

Motorcycle-riding Calgary P.I. Eddie Dancer is hired by two bank robbers to recover each one's share of the take. Dancer discovers the man behind it is an inmate at Barbary Prison who assumed each robber's identity to double-cross the other. The investigation connects to a string of murdered prostitutes and a corrupt warden.

At first glance, this seems a fairly standard P.I. setup. Eddie is wisecracking, good with his fists or a gun. His loyal friend, Danny Many Guns, is even deadlier. Harrison's short chapters read fast. See Robert Parker, Robert Crais, Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben...

What distinguishes All Shook Up is the amount of physical and mental punishment Dancer takes, so severe near the end of the novel that Eddie passes out—his first-person narration giving way to Danny Many Guns and one or two secondary characters in third-person.

These shifts jarred me. I lost some interest, but consider the alternative: Eddie wakes up in the hospital, and Danny's face comes into focus to explain what he missed. The shifts showed how much work went into the rescue, that Danny wasn't simply a deus ex machina.

I'll take it.

No comments: