There’s nothing quite like anticipation, and since I became a Grant Lambert and Chase LaMarca fan with Byrnes’ last book, Holy Rollers, I was hoping we’d see another one of his caper novels. Thankfully, he’s come
through once again with an equally complex, wrong-headed and thoroughly impossible challenge for Grant and Chase in Strange Bedfellows.
Austin Peebles, a Congressional hopeful, is a good-looking young man with a penchant for sexting cock shots. One, which also shows his face, is intercepted by right-wing blogger June Forteen. Enter his campaign manager, Kevin Wunder, who hires Grant and Chase to retrieve the picture. But Wunder doublecrosses them, and Grant and Chase set out on a course for revenge. And they bring a hilarious crew to help them pull off the job.
Lambert and LaMarca are wonderful characters—two men in a long-term relationship which has seen its ups and downs and has settled into a weary comfortability. The banter between these two is their bedrock, sly and loving even when they’re insulting each other. They are the center of Byrnes’s universe of woefully inept criminals.
If you’ve read Byrnes’s two other caper novels, Straight Lies and Holy Rollers, you’ll find some old favorites reappearing to help Lambert and LaMarca, but Byrnes changes it up with some new crooks as well. The most notable of these is Nick Donovan, son of one of their previous cohorts, who has a penchant for costumed superheroes and shows up at jobs perfectly inconspicuous in silver metallic jumpsuits with red capes, favoring names like Cadmium or The Conundrum. It’s enough to make you snort coffee all over your Kindle.
But Byrnes really shines at the caper—misdirecting your focus, springing surprises and introducing complications with ease. Coincidences seem natural, the unpredictable planned, and the simple answer never what it appears. Boldly plotted and perfectly executed, I could eat these with a spoon. And they’re propelled by Byrnes’ whipcrack dialogue and smart-ass humor.
So, add this one to your library and pick up the other two while you’re at it. But get one of those plastic sleeves for your Kindle.
You’ll need it.
©, 2012, Jerry Wheeler