Friday, January 29, 2016

ONCE A CROOKED MAN by David McCallum

    Actor David McCallum well remembered for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. can add another credit to his name - author.  Not just any author mind you but writer of one of the quirkiest crime novels to be found - it’s comic, farcical and smile provoking all the way.

    With Once A Crooked Man (think Men) we meet almost successful New York actor Harry Murphy, a good honest soul who only wants to win the mayonnaise commercial that he read for last week.  However fate steps in (as it often does with Harry) and he’s urgently in need of a bathroom following an audition.  When he’s refused admission to a restaurant he has no option but to find relief in a nearby alley below an open window.  Voices from the window are plainly plotting a murder - someone by the name of Villiers who lives in London.  Red-blooded and with an active conscience Harry feels he has no choice but to fly to London to warn Villiers.

    Little did Harry know that the voices he heard belonged to the Bruschetti brothers, lifelong criminals who have built a lucrative underworld business and left a few bodies along the way.  But now as they’ve grown older they’ve decided it is time to retire and enjoy their ill-gotten gains in peace and quiet.

    Once in London Harry is mistaken for someone who works for the Bruschettis, caught in a shoot out, involved in a high speed chase and more.  Before he knows it he’s targeted by both the good and the bad guys.  He is teamed with a beauteous British agent, Lizzie Carswell, to catch the Bruschettis.  The pair is sent back to New York where Lizzie disappears and Harry is truly on his own.

    McCallum obviously has a delicious sense of humor as the fixes Harry finds himself in follow one another much like a hen with her chicks.  Little of this is plausible, but much of it is laughable.  The denouement may disappoint some but the picture painted of Harry is unforgettable.


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