November 24, 2012 by Thomas Pluck
I originally reviewed this book in 2011 when it was published in e-book form. I loved it then, and I love it now that New Pulp Press has published it in a snazzy paperback. So here’s an all-new review of a book that was in my top 5 for 2011 and should be on your list, right now:
Nick Valentine is a walking liquor store who walks both sides of the law. His only code is don’t mess with his little dog Frank, and keep the drinks coming. He is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read, the bastard son of Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson.
A title like this can be a bait & switch. When I was given the Canadian poet Crad Kilodney’s collection entitled “Lightning Struck My Dick,” I was sorely disappointed that said event never occurred within. McBride delivers the goods, and then some.
A bank job goes horribly wrong, and the Chief of Police asks Nick to put his ear to the street. Nick’s father was a cop and well, Nick isn’t, but he tries to be the good son… or a good son of a bitch. He gets tangled up with some very unsavory locals, some of whom are the closest he’s got to friends. McBride paints his colorful characters in moral shades of gray, but their motives are unquestionable, purely driven by character and human nature. English Sid and No-Nuts are two of the greatest villains I’ve read in a long while.
Nick’s only superpower is his mighty tolerance for alcohol, and his proclivity for inserting violence in the uncomfortable pauses where normal people are thinking about the consequences. There’s also an ex-Amish policeman who rings true- not played for laughs. It’s got plenty of heart and humanity in between the over the top laughs, brutality and Elmore Leonard-style double crosses.
No, despite the title and Nick’s fondness for drink, this is a character-driven crime thriller that makes me wish there was a whole damn series already written, so I could spend a week reading them. The only bad thing about this book is having to wait for the next one.
There’s a next one, ain’t there, Matt?
Get to it, or I’ll put YOU in a blender.