Whiplash River by Lou Berney
(from the back of the book)
Having left his life of crime behind, former getaway driver Charles “Shake” Bouchon has finally realzed the dream of owning his own restaurant in Belize. To do so, unfortunately, he’s had to go deep in debt to a murderous local drug lord named Baby Jesus. And then when Shake thwarts an attempted hit on an elderly customer named Quinn, things go from bad to worse.
Next thing Shake knows, his restaurant’s gone up in flames and he’s on the run from Baby Jesus, two freelance assassins, and a beautiful but ferocious FBI agent. Out of options, Shake has to turn for help to the mysterious Quinn. Suddenly Shake’s up to his neck in a dangerous score that he’ll never pull off unless he can convince an even more dangerous ex-girlfriend to join him.
I liked Whiplash River. It was fast and funny. It was part thriller, part action and part heist book. The characters were quirky and interesting while still being believable. Berney manages to take some familiar elements; the slightly bumbling would be sidekick, the woman cop out to prove something, the ex-con trying to go good, the heist that keeps spinning further and further out of control and keep them from being derivative, cliché and stale. It has a good pace and enough action and surprises that there are no slow spots and it keeps your attention right to the end. It all comes together for a book that is enjoyable to read without much thinking involved. But I don’t know how much will stick with me. A month from now I’ll remember I liked the book and would read another by Berney but I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you the plot. But it was fun while it lasted.